Skip to main content

Full text of "Freytag's Technique of the drama : an exposition of dramatic composition and art. An authorized translation from the 6th German ed. by Elias J. MacEwan"

See other formats

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 




















Biographical Note. - - ^ - -vii-ix 

Introduction. — Technique of the drama not absolute. Cer- 
tain craftsman's skill of earlier times. Condition of present 
time. Aristotle's Poetics. Lessing. The great dramatic 
works as models. . - . . - i-g 


1. The Idea. — How the drama originates in the mind of the 

poet. Development of the idea. Material and its trans- 
formation. The historian and the poet. The range of 
material. Transformation of the real, according to Aris- 
totle. ---..-- g-i8 

2. What is Dramatic? — Explanation. Effg,Cts« Characters. 

The action. The dramatic life of the characters. Entrance 
of the dramatic into the life of men. Rareness of dramatic 
power. ------- ig-27 

3. Unity. — The Law. Among the Greeks. How it is pro- 

duced. How the unity of historical material is not secured. 
False unity. Where dramatic material is to be found. 
The character in the modern drama. Counter-play and its 
danger. Episodes. ----- 27-49 

4. Probability. — What is probable. Social effects of the 

drama. The strange. The marvellous. Mephistopheles. 
The irrational. Shakespeare and Schiller. - 49-61 

5. Importance and Magnitude. — Weakness of characters. 

Distinguished heroes. Private persons. Degrading the 
art. -_-...- 61-66 


6. Movement and Ascent. — Public actions. Inward strug- 

gles. Poet dramas. Nothing important to be omitted. 
Prince of HoDiburg. Antony and Cleopatra. Messenger 
scenes. Concealment and effect through reflex action. 
Efifects by means of the action itself. Necessity of ascent. 
Contrasts. Parallel scenes. - - - - 66-84 

7. What is Tragic? — How far the poet may not concern 

himself about it. The purging. Effects of ancient tragedy. 
Contrast with German tragedy. The tragic force (moment). 
The revolution and recognition. - - - 84-103 


1. Play and Counter-Play. — Two halves. Rise and fall. 

Two kinds of structure. Drama in which the chief hero 
leads. Drama of counter-play. Examples. Spectacle- 
play and tragedy. - _ - - . I 04-1 14 

2. Five Parts and Three Crises. — The introduction. The 

exciting force (moment). The ascent. The tragic force 
or incident. Falling action. The force or motive of last 
suspense. The catastrophe. Necessary qualifications of 
the poet. .-.-.- 1 14-140 

3. Construction of the Drama in Sophocles.— Origin 

of tragedy. Pathos scenes. Messenger scenes. Dialogues. 
Representation. The three actors. Scope of their work 
compared with modern actors. Same actor used to 
strengthen effects. Cast of parts. Ideas of preserved 
tragedies. Construction of the action. The characters. 
Ajax as an example. Peculiarity of Sophocles. His rela- 
tion to the myth. The parts of the tragedy. Antigone. 
King (EdipMS. CEdipus at C0I0710S. The Trachinian 
Women. Ajax. Philoctetes. - - - 1 40-1 81 

4. Germanic Drama.— Stage of Shakespeare. Its influence 

on the structure of the pieces. Shakespeare's peculiarities. 
Its falling action and its weaknesses. Construction of 
Hamlet. - - - - - . - 181-192 


The Five Acts. — Influence of the curtain on the modern 
stage. Development of the act. The five parts. Their 
technical peculiarities. First act. Second. Third. Fourth. 
Fifth. Examples. Construction of the double drama, 
Wallenstein. .... - 192-209 


Members. — Entrances. Scenes. Units of the poet. Their 
combination into scenes. Structure of the scene. Inter- 
vals. Change of scenery. Chief scenes and subordinate 
scenes. .-.--. 210-216 

The Scenes According to the Number of Persons.— 
Conduct of action through the scenes. Monologues. Mes- 
senger scenes. Dialogue scenes. Different structure. 
Love scenes. Three persons. Ensemble scenes. Their 
laws. The galley scene in Antony and Cleopatra. Banquet 
scene in Piccolomini. Riitli scene. Parliament in Demet- 
rius. Mass scenes. Distributed voices. Battles. 216-245 


Peoples and Poets. — Assumptions of dramatic character- 
ization, creation, and after-creation. Variety of peoples 
and characters. Germans and Latins. Difference accord- 
ing to poets. Shakespeare's characters. Lessing, Goethe, 
Schiller. - - - - - - 246-266 

Characters in the Material and in the Play. — The 
character dependent on the action. Example of Wallen- 
stein. Characters with portraiture. Historical characters. 
Poets and history. Opposition between characters and 
action. The epic hero intrinsically undramatic. Euripides. 
The Germans and their legends. Older German history. 
Nature of historical heroes. Inner poverty. Mingling of 
opposites. Lack of unity. Influence of Christendom. 
Henry IV. Attitude of the poet toward the appearances of 
reality. Opposition between poet and actor. - 266-303 

Minor Rules. — The characters must have dramatic unity. 
The drama must have but one chief hero. Double heroes. 


Lovers. The action must be based on characteristics of 
the persons. Easily understood. Mingling of good and 
evil. Humor. Accident. The characters in the different 
acts. Demands of the actor. The conception of the stage 
arrangement must be vivid in the poet's mind. The 
province of the spectacle play. What is it to write 
effectively? ----- 303-322 


I. Prose and Verse. — Iambic pentameter. Tetrameter. 
Trimeter. Alexandrine. Verse of the Nibelungen Lied. 
Dramatic element of verse. Color. - - 323-340 


I. Poet of Modern Times. — Material. Work. Fitting for 
the stage. Cutting out. Length of the piece. Acquain- 
tance with the stage. _ . - - 341-366 


Gustav Freytag, scholar, poet, novelist, critic, play- 
wright, editor, soldier, publicist, was born in Kreuzburg, 
Silesia, in 1816. Still living in quiet retirement in Wies- 
baden, he is one of the best known of modern German 
writers. His preliminary education was acquired at the 
Gymnasium of Oels, which he entered in 1829, at the age 
of thirteen. In 1835, he began the study of German 
philology under Hoffmann, at the University of Bres- 
lau. Later he continued this line of study with Lach- 
mann, at the University of Berlin, where, in 1838-9, he 
was given the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, on the 
presentation of a thesis on De initiis scenicce poeseos apud 
Germanos. Between this time and 1846, he was con- 
nected with the University of Breslau, as an instructor in 
the German language and literature. Having gained 
some notice, as the author of a comedy. The Bridal 
Jow-ney (1844), and a volume of short popular poems. 
In Breslau (1845), ^^ ^^ow (1847), i^ connection with 
Julian Schmidt, undertook the management of the politi- 
cal and literary newspaper. Die Grenzboten^ in Leipzig. 
He continued his literary work, and entered in earnest 
upon what has proved the long and honorable career of 
a man of letters. 

In 1847^ Valentine appeared, followed the next year 
by Count Waldemir, both society plays, evincing the 
author's dramatic power, and with his inclination toward 


the spirit, the dialectics, and the sketchy manner of the 
younger writers, showing his delicate feeling for clear- 
ness and purity of style, his skill in the conduct of the 
action, in dialogue, and his genial fresh humor. His 
next play. The Scholar, is rather a psychological study in 
a single act, than a drama. In 1854, his greatest piece, 
The Journalists, was first acted; and it is still one of the 
most popular modern society dramas represented on the 
German stage. Perfectly natural and healthful in tone, 
it abounds in striking situations, depicts with fidelity 
many important types of German character, amusingly 
exhibits social rivalries and political machinations, and 
affords abundant opportunity for the author's effective 
satire. Another play. The Fabii, appeared in 1859. 

Freytag's first great novel. Soil mid Haben (1858), 
translated into English under the title of Debit and 
Credit (1859), ^^s become a classic. In this, his view of 
human life is broader and his insight into the springs of 
human action deeper than in his plays. Its purpose is 
to show the value and dignity of a life of labor. It 
attempts to show that the active, vigorous life of a great 
German merchant is purer, nobler, more beneficent than 
the life of a haughty aristocrat, relying only on the 
traditional merits of his family; and, in this attempt, the 
author weaves a web of glory about the life of the ordi- 
nary citizen. A second novel. The Lost Manuscript 
(1864), in like manner shows the superiority of the 
scholar over the nobleman. 

The Technique of the Drama was written in 1863, and 
dedicated to the author's friend — Wolf, Count of Bau- 
dissin. The book has passed through six editions, and 
attained the rank of a first-class authority on the matters 
of which it treats, though now for the first time trans- 
lated into English. 


In 1862, Freytag began his famous series of connected 
historic tales, in New Pictures from the Life of the Ger- 
man People, continued the next year in Pictures from the 
German Past, and still further in 1876 and later, in The 
Ancestors, including Ingo and Ingraban; The Nest of the 
Hedge-sparrows ; The Brothers of the German House; 
Marcus King; The Brothers and Sisters; From a Little 
City, etc. These are all descriptions of German life, 
based on accurate research, and including periods from 
the fourth to the nineteenth century. Devoted to the 
glory of the German people, this, the author's most 
extensive work, makes an entertaining exposition of 
some of the noblest traits of German character. In 
1870, he published a striking biography of his intimate 
friend, entitled Karl Mathy ; Story of His Life. 

Freytag continued to edit Die Grenzboten for twenty- 
three years, when he went over to a new journal called 
Lm Neuen Reich. His political writings having intro- 
duced him to public life, he became in 1867, a representa- 
tive of the Liberal party in the North-German Parliament. 
On the breaking out of the Franco- Prussian war in 1870, 
he entered the imperial army as an officer on the staff of 
the Crown Prince, remaining in military service till after 
the Battle of Sedan. He gave up public life in 1879. 


That the technique of the drama is nothing 
absolute and unchangeable scarcely need be stated. 
Since Aristotle established a few of the highest 
laws of dramatic effect, the culture of the human 
race has grown more than two thousand years 
older. Not only have the artistic forms, the stage 
and method of representation undergone a great 
change, but what is more important, the spiritual 
and moral nature of men, the relation of the 
individual to the race and to the highest forces 
of earthly life, the idea of freedom, the concep- 
tion of the being of Divinity, have experienced 
great revolutions. A wide field of dramatic 
material has been lost ; a new and greater range 
has been won. With the moral and political 
principles which control our life, our notion of 
the beautiful and the artistically effective has 
developed. Between the highest art effects of 
the Greek festivals, the autos sacramentales, and 
the drama of the time of Goethe and Iffland,the 
difference is not less great than between the 


Hellenic choral theater, the structure for the mys- 
tery play, and the complete inclosed room of 
the modern stage. It may be considered certain 
that some of the fundamental laws of dramatic 
production will remain in force for all time ; in 
general, however, not only the vital requisites of 
the drama have been found in continuous devel- 
opment, but also the artistic means of producing 
its effects. Let no one think that the technique 
of poetry has been advanced through the creations 
of the greatest poets only ; we may say without 
self-exaltation that we at present have clearer ideas 
upon the highest art effects in the drama and 
upon the use of technical equipment, than had 
Lessing, Schiller and Goethe. 

'The poet of the present is inclined to look 
with amazement upon a method of work in which 
the structure of scenes, the treatment of char- 
acters, and the sequence of effects were governed 
by a transmitted code of fixed technical rules. 
Such a limitation easily seems to us the death 
of free artistic creation. Never was a greater 
error. Even an elaborate, system of specific rules, 
a certain limitation founded in popular custom, 
as to choice of material and structure of the piece, 
have been at different periods the best aid to 
creative power. Indeed, they are, it seems, nee- 


essary prerequisites of that rich harvest of many 
past periods, which has seemed to us so enigmatical 
and incomprehensible. We recognize still that 
Greek tragedy possessed such a technique, and 
that the greatest poets worked according to crafts- 
man's rules which were in part common, and in 
part might be the property of distinct families 
and guilds. Many of these were well known to 
Attic criticism, which judged the worth of a piece 
according to them — whether the revolution scene 
were in the right place and the pathos scene 
aroused the desired degree of sympathy. That 
the Spanish cloak-and-dagger drama artistically 
wove the threads of its intrigue likewise according 
to fixed rules, no poetics of a Castilian informs 
us ; but we are able to recognize very well many 
of these rules in the uniform construction of the 
plays, and in the ever recurring characters ; and 
it would not be very difficult to formulate a code 
of peculiar rules from the plays themselves. These 
rules, of course, even to contemporaries, to whom 
they were useful, were not invariable ; through 
the genius and shrewd invention of individuals, 
these gradually learned how to improve and 
remodel, until the rules became lifeless; and after 
a period of spiritless application, together with the 
creative power of the poets, they were lost. 


It is true, an elaborate technique which deter- 
mines not only the form, but also many aesthetic 
effects, marks out for the dramatic poetry of a 
period a limit and boundary within which the 
greatest success is attained, and to transgress which 
is not allowed even to the greatest genius. In 
later times such a limitation is considered a hin- 
drance to a versatile development. But even we 
Germans might be well content with the unap- 
preciative judgment of posterity if we only 
possessed now the aid of a generally useful tech- 
nique. We suffer from the opposite of narrow 
limitations, the lack of proper restraint, lack of 
form, a popular style, a definite range of dramatic 
material, firmness of grasp ; our work has become 
in all directions casual and uncertain. Even to-day, 
eighty years after Schiller, the young poet finds 
it difficult to move upon the stage with confidence 
and ease. 

If, however, we must deny ourselves the advant- 
age of composing according to the craftsman's 
traditions which were peculiar to the dramatic art 
as well as to the plastic arts of former centuries, 
yet we should not scorn to seek, and intelligently 
to use, the technical rules of ancient and modern 
times, which facilitate artistic effects on our stage. 
To be sure, these rules are not to be prescribed 


at the dictation of a single person, not established 
through the influence of one great thinker or poet ; 
but drawn from the noblest effects of the stage, they 
must include what is essential — they must serve 
criticism and creative power not as dictator, but 
as honest helper; and under them a transformation 
and improvement according to the needs of the 
time is not to be excluded. 

It is remarkable that the technical rules of a 
former time, in accordance with which the play- 
wright must construct the artistic framework of his 
piece, have been so seldom transmitted in writing 
to later generations. Two thousand two hundred 
years have passed since Aristotle formulated a part 
of these laws for the Hellenes. Unfortunately 
his Poetics has come down to us incomplete. 
Only an outline has been received, which unskilled 
hands have made — a corrupt text with gaps, 
apparently disconnected chapters, hastily thrown 
together. In spite of this condition, what we 
have received is of highest value to us. To this 
our science of the past is indebted for a glance 
into the remains of the Hellenes' theater world. 
In our text-books on aesthetics, this still affords 
the foundation for the theory of our dramatic 
art, and to the growing poet, some chapters of 
the little work are instructive; for besides a theory 


of dramatic effects, as the greatest thinker of 
antiquity explained them to his contemporaries, 
and besides many principles of a popular system 
of criticism, as the cultured Athenian brought it 
into use in considering a new production, the 
work contains many fine appliances from the 
workshops of antiquity, which we can use to great 
advantage in our labors. In the following pages, 
so far as the practical purpose of the book will 
allow, these will be the subject of our discussion. 
It is a hundred and twenty years since Lessing 
undertook to decipher for the Germans this ste- 
nography of the ancients. His Hamburgische 
Dramaturgie was the avenue to a popular com- 
prehension of the dramatically beautiful. The 
victorious battle which he waged in this book, 
against the tyranny of French taste, will secure 
to him forever the respect and affection of the 
German people. For our time, the polemic past 
is of most importance. Where Lessing elucidates 
Aristotle, his understanding of the Greek does 
not seem entirely sufficient for our present time, 
which has at hand a more abundant means of 
explanation; where he exposes the laws of dra- 
matic creation, his judgment is restricted by the 
narrow conception of the beautiful and effective, 
which he himself accepted. 


Indeed, the best source of technical rules is 
the plays of great poets, which still to-day, 
exercise their charm alike on reader and spectator, 
especially the Greek tragedies. Whoever accus- 
toms himself to look aside from the peculiarities 
of the old models, will notice with real joy that 
the skilful tragic poet of the Athenians, Sophocles, 
used the fundamental laws of dramatic construc- 
tion, with enviable certainty and shrewdness. For 
development, climax, and return of the action, he 
presents us a model seldom reached. 

About two thousand years after CEdipus at 
Colonos, Shakespeare, the second mighty genius 
which gave immortal expression to dramatic art, 
wrote the tragedy, Romeo and Jidiet. He created 
the drama of the Germanic races. His treatment 
of the tragic, his regulation of the action, his 
manner of developing character, and his repre- 
sentation of soul experiences, have established for 
the introduction of the drama, and for the first 
half to the climax, many technical laws which 
still guide us. 

The Germans came in a roundabout way to a 
recognition of the greatness and significance of 
his service. The great German poets, easily the 
next modeic after ^^^ ' '- ' —- <-^ f^.sbion. lived 


with the inheritance of the old past. There waj 
lacking, therefore, to the technique which they 
inherited, something of certainty and consistency 
in effects ; and directly because the beautiful which 
they discovered has been infused into our blood, 
we are bound, in our work, to reject many things 
which with them rested upon an incomplete or 
insecure foundation. 

The examples brought forward in the following 
discussion are taken from Sophocles, Shakespeare, 
Lessing, Goethe, and Schiller, for it has seemed 
desirable to limit examples to universally known 




In the soul of the poet, the drama gradually 
takes shape out of the crude material furnished by 
the account of some striking event. First appear 
single movements ; internal conflicts and personal 
resolution, a deed fraught with consequence, the 
collision of two characters, the opposition of a hero 
to his surroundings, rise so prominently above their 
connection with other incidents, that they become 
the occasion for the transformation of other mate- 
rial. This transformation goes on to such an extent 
that the main element, vividly perceived, and com- 
prehended in its entrancing, soul-stirring or terrify- 
ing significance, is separated from all that casually 
accompanies it, and with single supplementary, 
invented elements, is brought into a unifying rela- 
tion of cause and effect. The new unit which thus 
arises is the Idea of the Drama. This is the center 
toward which further independent inventions are 
diiected, like rays. ThisTd^a works with a power 
siii.iiar to the secret power of crystallization. 
Tl^A. ugh this are unity of action, significance of 



characters, and at last, the whole structure of the 
drama produced. 

How ordinary material becomes a poetic idea 
through inspiration, the following example will 
show. A young poet of the last century reads the 
following notice in a newspaper: "Stuttgart, Jan. 
II. — In the dwelling of the musician, Kritz, were 
found, yesterday, his oldest daughter, Louise, and 
Duke Blasius von Boiler, major of dragoons, lying 
dead upon the floor. The accepted facts in the 
case, and the medical examination indicated that 
both had come to their deaths by drinking poison. 
There is a rumor of an attachment between the pair, 
which the major's father, the well-known President 
von Boiler, had sought to break off. The sad fate 
of the young woman, universally esteemed on 
account of her modest demeanor, awakens the 
sympathy of all people of sensibility." 

From the material thus afforded, the fancy of 
the poet, aroused by sympathy, fashions the charac- 
ter of an ardent and passionate youth, and of an 
innocent and susceptible maiden. The contrast 
between the court atmosphere, from which the 
lover has emerged, and the narrow circle of a little 
village household, is vividly felt. The hostile 
father becomes a heartless, intriguing courtier. An 
unavoidable necessity arises, of explaining the 
frightful resolution of a vigorous youth, a resolution 
apparently growing out of such a situation. The 
creative poet finds this inner connection in an illu- 
sion which the father has produced in the soul of 


the son, in a suspicion that his beloved is unfaith- 
ful. In this manner the poet makes the account 
intelligible to himself and to others ; while freely 
inventing, he introduces an internal consistency. 
These inventions are, in appearance, little supple- 
mentary additions, but they make an entirely orig- 
inal production which stands over against the 
original occurrence as something new, and has 
something like the following contents : In the 
breast of a young nobleman, jealousy toward his 
beloved, a girl of the middle class, has been so 
excited by his father, that he destroys both her 
and himself by poison. Through this remodeling, 
an occurrence in real life becomes a dramatic 
idea. From this time forward, the real occurrence 
is unessential to the poet. The place, and family 
name are lost sight of ; indeed, whethej the event 
happened as reported, or what was the character 
of the victims, and of their parents, or their rank, 
no longer matters at all ; quick perception and the 
first activity of creative power have given to the 
occurrence a universally intelligible meaning and 
an intrinsic truth. The controlling forces of the 
piece are no longer accidental, and to be found in 
a single occurrence ; they could enter into a 
hundred cases, and with the accepted characters 
and the assumed connection, the outcome would 
always be the same. 

When the poet has once thus infused his own 
soul into the material, then he adopts from the real 
account some things which suit his purpose — the 


title of the father and of the son, the name of the 
bride, the business of her parents, perhaps single 
traits of character which he may turn to account. 
Alongside this goes further creative work ; the chief 
characters are developed, to their distinct individu- 
alities ; accessory figures are created, — a quarrel- 
some accomplice of the father, another woman, the 
opposite of the beloved, personality of the parents ; 
new impulses are given to the action, and all these 
inventions are determined and ruled by the idea of 
the piece. 

This idea, the first invention of the poet, the 
silent soul through which he gives life to the mate- 
rial coming to him from external sources, does not 
easily place itself before him as a clearly defined 
thought; it has not the colorless clearness of an 
abstract conception. On the contrary, the peculiar- 
ity in such work of the poet's mind is, that the chief 
parts of the action, the nature of the chief charac- 
ters, indeed something of the color of the piece, 
glow in the soul at the same time with the idea, 
bound into an inseparable unity, and that they con- 
tinually work like a human being producing and 
expanding in every direction. It is possible, of 
course, that the poet's idea, however securely he 
bears it in his soul, may never, during the process 
of composition, come to perfection in words, and 
that later, through reflection, but without having 
formulated it even for himself, he sets the possession 
of his soul into the stamped coin of speech, and 
comprehends it as the fundamental thought of his 


drama. It is possible, indeed, that he has perceived 
the idea more justly according to the rules of his 
art, than he has given the central thought of his 
work verbal expression. 

If, however, it is inconvenient and often difficult 
for him to cast the idea of a growing play into a for- 
mula, to express it in words, yet the poet will do 
well, even in the beginning of his work, to temper 
the ardor of his soul, and sharply discriminating, 
judge the idea according to the essential requisites 
of the drama. It is instructive for a stranger to a 
piece to seek the hidden soul in the complete pro- 
duction, and however imperfect this may possibly 
be, give the thought formal expression. Much may 
be recognized in this way that is characteristic of 
single poets. For example, let the foundation of 
Mmy Stuart be, — "The excited jealousy of a 
queen incites to the killing of her imprisoned 
rival;" and again of Love and Intrigue, *'The 
excited jealousy of a young nobleman incites to the 
killing of his humble beloved." These bare formu- 
las will be taken from the fulness of many-colored 
life which in the mind of the creative poet is con- 
nected with the idea; yet something peculiar will 
become distinct in the construction of both pieces, 
in addition ; for example, that the poet using such a 
frame work was placed under the necessity of com- 
posing in advance the first part of the action, which 
explains the origin of the jealousy, and that the 
impelling force in the chief characters becomes 
operative just in the middle of the piece, and that 


the first acts contain preferably the endeavours of 
the accessory characters,. to excite the fatal activity 
of one of the chief characters. It will be further 
noticed how similar in ultimate principle is the con- 
struction and motive of these two plays of Schiller, 
and how both have a surprising similarity in idea 
and plan, to the more powerful Othello. 

The material which is transformed through the 
dramatic idea, is either invented by the poet spe- 
cially for his drama, or is an incident related from 
the life which surrounds him, or an account which 
history offers, or the contents of a tradition, or novel, 
or narrative poem. In all of these cases, where the 
poet makes use of what is at hand, it has already 
been humanized by the impress of an idea. Even 
in the above supposed newspaper notice, the incipient 
remodeling is recognizable. In the last sentence, 
"There is a rumor of an attachment," etc., the 
reporter makes the first attempt to transform the 
mere fact into a consistent story, to explain the 
tragic occurrence, to bring to the lovers a greater 
degree of interest, so that a more attractive mean- 
ing is given to their condition. The practice of 
transformation, through which consistency and a 
meaning corresponding to the demands of the think- 
ing person are given to real events, is no preroga- 
tive of the poet. Inclination toward this, and capa- 
bility for it, are active in all persons, and at all times. 
For thousands of years the human race has thus 
transposed for itself life in heaven and on earth ; it 
has abundantly endowed its representations of the 


divine with human attributes. All heroic tradition 
has sprung from such a transformation of impres- 
sions from religious life, history, or natural objects, 
into poetic ideas. Even now, since historic culture 
prevails, and respect for the real relations of the 
great events of the world has risen so high, this ten- 
dency to explain occurrences shows itself in the 
greatest as well as in the least matters. In every 
anecdote, even in the disagreeable gossip of society, 
its activity is manifest, endeavoring, even if what is 
real remains unchanged, to present vividly and with 
spirit some trait of narrow life, or from the neces- 
sity of the raconteur, to make himself in contrast 
with others more surely and better observed. 

Historical material is already brought into order 
through some idea, before the poet takes possession 
of it. The ideas of the historian are not at all poet- 
ical ; but they have a specific and shaping influence 
on every part of the work which is brought through 
them into being. Whoever describes the life of a 
man, whoever makes an exposition of a section of 
past time, must set in order his mass of material 
from an established point of view, must sift out the 
unessential, must make prominent the most essen- 
tial. Still more, he must seek to comprehend the 
contents of a human life or a period of time ; he 
must take pains to discover ultimate characteris- 
tics and intimate connection of events. He must 
also know tfie connection of his material with much 
that is* external, and much that his work does not 
present. In certain cases, indeed, he must supplement 


what has been delivered to him, and so explain the 
unintelligible, that its probable and possible meaning 
is evident. He is finally directed in the arrangement 
of his work, by the laws of creation, which have 
many things in common with the laws of poetic 
composition. Through his knowledge and his art, 
he may from crude material create a picture excit- 
ing wonder, and produce upon the soul of the reader 
the most powerful effect. But he is distinguished 
from the poet by this, that he seeks conscientiously 
to understand what has actually occurred, exactly 
as 'it was presented to view, and that the inner con- 
nection which he seeks is produced by the laws of 
nature which we revere as divine, eternal, incompre- 
hensible. To the historian, the event itself, with its 
significance for the human mind, seems of most 
importance. To the poet, the highest value lies in 
his own invention ; and out of fondness for this, he, 
at his convenience, changes the actual incident. To 
the poet, therefore, every work of an historical 
writer, however animated it may be through the 
historical idea recognized in' its contents, is still 
only raw material, like a daily occurrence ; and the 
most artistic treatment by the historian is useful to 
the poet, only so far as it facilitates his comprehen- 
sion of what has really happened. If the poet has, 
in history, found his interest awakened in the person 
of the martial prince, Wallenstein ; if he perceives 
vividly in his reading a certain connection between 
the deeds and the fate of the man ; if he is touched 
or shocked by single characteristics of his real life, 


— then there begins in his mind the process of 
reconstruction, so that he brings the deeds and fall 
of the hero into perfectly intelligible and striking 
connection, and he even so transforms the character 
of the hero as is desirable for a touching and thrilling 
effect of the action. That which in the historical 
character is only a subordinate trait, now becomes 
the fundamental characteristic of his being; the 
gloomy, fierce commander receives something of the 
poet's own nature; he becomes a high minded, dream- 
ing, reflecting man. Conformably with this charac- 
ter, all incidents are remodeled, all other characters 
determined, and guilt and calamities regulated. 
Through such idealization arose Schiller's Wallen- 
stein, a figure whose enchanting features have but 
little in common with the countenance of the his- 
torical Wallenstein. Indeed, the poet will have to 
be on his guard lest, in his invention, there be made 
to appear what to his contemporaries may seem the 
opposite of historical truth. How much the later 
poet may be limited by such a consideration, will be 
discussed later. 

It will depend on the personality of the poet, 
whether the first rapture of his poetic activity is 
derived from the enchanting characteristics of man- 
kind, or from what is striking in real destiny, or 
from the really interesting in the color of the time, 
which he finds in the historical record. But from 
the moment when the enjoyment and ardor neces- 
sary to his production begin, he proceeds, indeed, 
with unfettered freedom, however faithfully he 


seems to himself to adhere to historical material. 
He transforms all available material into dramatic 
forces.* (See Notes, commencing page 383.) 

Moreover, when the poet adopts material which 
has already been put in order more or less perfectly 
according to the laws of epic construction, as heroic 
poem, saga, artistically finished narrative, what is 
prepared for another species of poetry, is for him 
only material. Let it not be thought that an event 
with the persons involved, which has already been 
ennobled through an art so nearly allied, has for 
that reason a better preparation for the drama. On 
the contrar}^, there is between the great creations of 
the epic which shadow forth occurrences and heroes 
as they stand near each other, and dramatic art 
which represents actions and characters as they are 
developed through each other, a profound opposi- 
tion which it is difficult for the creative artist to 
manage. Even the poetic charm which these 
ca?eated images exercise upon his soul, may render 
it the more difficult for him to transform them 
according to the vital requisites of his art. The 
Greek drama struggled as severely with its material, 
which was taken from the epic, as the historic poet 
of our time must, with the transformation of histor- 
ical ideas into dramatic. 

To transform material artistically, according to a 
unifying idea, means to idealize it. The characters 
of the poet, in contrast with the images from reality 
used as material, and according to a convenient 
craftsman's expression, are called ideals. 


19 . 



The dramatic includes those emoti ons of the 
soul which steel themselves to will, and to do, and 
those emotions of the soul which are aroused by a 
deed or course of action ; also the inner processes 
which man experiences from the first glow of per- 
ception to passionate desire and action, as well as 
the influences which one's own and others' deeds 
exert upon the soul ; also the rushing forth of will 
power from the depths of man's soul toward the 
external world, and the influx of fashioning influ- 
ences from the outer world into man's inmost being; 
also the coming into being of a deed, and its conse- 
quences on the human soul. 

An action, in itself, is not dramatic. Passionate 
feeling, in itself, is not dramatic. Not the presen- 
tation of a passion for itself, but of a passion which 
leads to action is the business of dramatic art ; not 
the presentation of an event for itself, but for its 
effect on a human soul is the dramatist's mission. 
The exposition of passionate emotions as such, is in 
the province of the lyric poet ; the depicting of 
thrilling events is the task of the epic poet. 

The two ways in which the dramatic expresses 
itself are, of course, not fundamentally different. 
Even while a man is under stress, and laboring to turn 
his inmost soul toward the external, his surroun'd- 
ings exert a stimulating or repressing influence on 


his passionate emotions. And, again, while what 
has been done exerts a reflex influence upon him, he 
does not remain merely receptive, but gains new 
impulses and transformations. Yet, there is a dif- 
ference in these closely connected processes. The 

^ first, the inward struggle of man toward a deed, has 

' always the highest charm. The second stimulates 
to more external emotion, a more violent co-opera- 
tion of different forces ; almost all that satisfies curi- 

1 osity belongs to this; and yet, however indispensa- 
ble it is to the drama, it is principally a satisfying 

, of excited suspense ; and the impatience of the 
hearer, if he has creative power, easily runs in 
advance, seeking a new vehement agitation in the 
soul of the hero. What is occurring chains the 
attention most, not what, as a thing of the past, has 
excited wonder. 

Since the dramatic art presents men as their 
inmost being exerts an influence on the external, or 
as they are affected by external influences, it must 
logically use the means by which it can make intel- 
ligible to the auditor these processes of man's 
nature. These means are speech, tone, gesture. . It 
must bring forward its characters as speaking, sing- 
ing, gesticulating. Poetry uses also as accessories 
in her representations, music and scenic art. 

In close fellowship with her sister arts, with vig- 
orous, united effort she sends her images into the 
receptive souls of those who are at the same time 
auditors and spectators. The impressions which she 

i produces are called effects. These dramatic effects 


have a very peculiar character ; they differ not only 
from the effects of the plastic arts through the force 
of emphasis and the progressive and regular grada- 
tion of the chosen movement, but also from the 
powerful effects of music, in this, that they flow in 
at the same time through two senses, and excite 
with rapture not only emotional, but also intel- 
lectual activity. 

From what has already been said, it is clear that 
the characters, presented according to the demands 
of dramatic art, must have something unusual in I 
their nature' which may distinguish them not only 
from the innumerable, more manifold, and more com- 
plicated beings whose images real life impresses on 
the soul, but also from the poetic images which are 
rendered effective through other forms of art, the 
epic, the romance, the lyric. The dramatis persona 
must represent human nature, not as it is aroused and 
mirrored in its surroundings, active and full of feel- 
ing, but as a grand and passionately excited inner 
power striving to embody itself in a deed, trans- 
forming and guiding the being and conduct of 
others. Man, in the drama, must appear under 
powerful restraint, excitement, transformation. Spe- 
cially must there be represented in him in full 
activity those peculiarities which come effectively 
into conflict with other men, force of sentiment, 
violence of will, achievement hindered through pas- 
sionate desire, just those peculiarities which make 
character and are intelligible through character. It 
thus happens, not without reason, that in the terms 


of art, the people of a drama ^are_called^clmra^^ 
But the characters which are brought forward by 
poetry and her accessory arts, can evince their inner 
life only as participants in an event or occurrence, 
tTie course and internal connection of which becomes 
apparent to the spectator through the dramatic pro- 
cesses in the soul of the poet. This course of events, 
when it is arranged according to~tIie~demands of I 
dramatic art, is called the acEon?"^'^^'^ \ 

Each participant in the dramatic action has a 
definite appointment with reference to the whole ; 
for each, an exact, circumscribed personality is nec- 
essary, which must be so constituted that so _much . 
of it as has a purpose may be conveniently per- 
ceived by the auditor, and what is common to man 
and what is peculiar to this character may be effect- 
ively represented by the actor by means of his art. 

Those spiritual processes which have been indi- 
cated above as dramatic, are, of course, not perfectly 
apparent in every person represented, specially on 
the later stage, which is fond of bringing forward a 
greater number of characters as participants in the 
action. But the chief characters must abound in 
them ; only when these, in_aa.-:appropriate manner, 
exhibit their real nature with jKDwer and fulness, 
even to the inmost recesses of their heatts^ can the 
drama produce great effects. If this last dramatic 
element is not apparent in the leading characters, is 
not. forced upon the hearer, the drama is lifeless ; 
it is an artificial, empty form, without corre'sponding 
contents ; and the pretentious co-operation of several 


combined arts makes this hoUowness the more 

Along with the chief characters, the subordinate 
persons participate in this dramatic life, each accord- 
ing to the space occupied in the piece. It does not 
entirely disappear, even in the least role, in those 
figures which with a few words can show their par- 
ticipation ; the attendant or the messenger, owes it 
as a duty, at least to the actor's art, by costume, 
manner of speech, deportment, gesture, posture at 
entering, to represent in a manner suitable to the 
piece what he personates, so far as externals will do 
it, even if meagerly and modestly. 

But since the representation of these mental 

processes, which are the prerogative and requisite of 

the drama, requires time, and since the poet's time 

for the producing of effects is limited according to 

the custom of his people, it follows that the event 

\ represented must bring the chief characters much 

I more boldly into prominencQ.„ than Js_necessary in 

' an actual occurrence which is brought about through 

the general activity of many persons. 

The capability of producing dramatic effects is 

not accorded to the human race in every period of 

jits existence. Dramatic poetry appears later than 

I epic and lyric ; its blossoming among any people 

depends on the fortunate conjunction of many 

impelling forces, but specially on this, that in the 

actual life of the contemporary public, the corre- 

Isponding mental processes are frequently and fully 

i\ seen. This is first possible when the people have 

reached a certain degree of development, when men 
have become accustomed to observe themselves and 
others critically under the impulse to a deed when 
speech has acquired a high degree of flex.b.h y and 
a clever dialect; when the individual is no longer 
bound by the interdict of tradition and external 
force, ancient formula and popular custom but .s 
able more freely to fashion his own life. We dis- 
tinguish two periods in which the dramatic has come 
to the human race. This intensification of the 
. human soul appeared for the first time in the ancient 

Cb world, about 500 years before Christ, when the 
youthful consciousness of the free Hellenic commu- 
nity awoke with the bloom of commerce, with free- 
dom of speech, and with the participation of the 
citizen in affairs of state. The dramatic spirit 
appeared the second time, in the newer family of 
European peoples, after the Reformation, at the 
same time with the deepening of mind and spirit, 
which was produced through the sixteenth century, 
not only among the Germans, but also among the 
Latin races, but by different methods. Centuries 
before the inception of this mighty effort of the 
human spirit, not only the Hellenes, but the various 
branches of migrating nations, had already been 
developing the rudiments of a speech and art of 
pantomime which was seeking the dramatic. There, 
as here, great festivals in honor of the gods had 
occasioned the song in ceremonial costume, and the 
playing of popular masques. Bu£ the entrance of 
dramatic power into these lyric or epic exhibitions. 


was in both cases a wonderfully rapid, almost 
sudden one. Both times, the dramatic was devel- 
oped, from the moment it became alive, with a 
marvellous power to a beauty which, through the 
later centuries, it has not easily reached. Immedi- 
ately after the Persian wars, came ^schylus, 
Sophocles, and Euripides in close succession. 
Shortly after the Reformation, there appeared 
among the European nations, first in England and 
Spain, and later in France, last of all among the 
Germans, left behind through helpless weakness, 
the highest popular florescence of this rare art. 

But there is this difference between the begin- 
ning of the dramatic in the old world and in ther\ 
!new: the drama of antiquity originated in tjjejyric^, 
choral song ; that of the newer world rests on Jhe 
epic enjoyment "in the exhibition of important 
events. In the former, from the beginning, the 
^passionate excitement of feeling was the charm ; in 
the latter, the witnessing of thrilling incident.! 
This difference of origin has powerfully influenced \ 
the form and meaning of the drama in its artistic ' 
development ; and however eminent the contribu- 
tions of art were in both periods, they retained 
something essentially different. 

But even after dramatic life had arisen among 
the people, the highest effects of poetry remained 
the prerogative of a few, and since that time dra- 
matic power has not been accorded to every poet ; 
indeed, it does not pervade with sufficient power 
every work even of the greatest poets. We may 


V. , 


conclude that even in Aristotle's time, those stately 
plays with a simple action, with no characteristic 
desires on the part of the leading persons, with 
loosely connected choruses, hadr-^iQssibly, lyric, 
but notdraniatic-bea«ty^ And among theliTstoric 
plays which, year after year, are written in Ger- 
many, the greater part contains little more than 
mangled history thrown into dialogue, some epic 
material thrown into scenic form, at all events noth- 
ing of dramatic character. Indeed, single poems of 
the greater poets suffer from the same lack. Only 
two celebrated dramas need here be named. The 
Hecuba of Euripides shows, until toward the end, 
only a little progress, and that entirely unsatisfac- 
tory, from the_ excited disposition, toward ,a..deed^; ^ 
first in the^final conflict againstJPplymnestor does \ 
Hecuba exhibit a passion that becomes a determi- 
nation ; here the dramatic suspense first begins ; up to 
this point there_was evokedfrom the briefly sketched 
and pathetic circumstances of the chief characters, 
only lyric complaints. And again, in Shakespeare's 
Henry V., in which the poet wished to compose a 
patriotic piece according to the old epic customs of 
his stage, with military parades, fights, little epi- 
sodes, there is apparent neither Jn ^yie chief ^char- 
acters, nor in their accessories, any deeply laid^foun- 
dation for their "deeds,' in a dramatically presenta- 
ble motive. In short waves, wish and demand rip- 
ple along ; the actions themselves are th^ -chief 
thing. Patriotism must excite a lively interest, as 
in Shakespeare's time, and among his people, it 


always did abundantly. For us, the play is less 
presentable than the parts of Henry VI. On the 
contrary, to name only a few of one poet's pieces, 
Macbeth, as far as the banquet scene, the whole of 
Coriola?ius, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Ccesar, 
t Lear, up to the hovel scene, and Richard III., con- 
tain the most powerful dramatic elements that have 
ever been created by a Teuton or a Saxon. 

From the inner struggles of the leading charac- 
ters, the judgment of contemporaries, as a rule, or at 
; least that of the immediately following time, rates 
j the significance of a piece. Where this life is want- 
ing, no skill in treatment, no attractive material, is 
able to keep the work alive. Where this dramatic 
life is present, even later times regard with great 
respect a poetical composition and gladly overlook 
its shortcomings. 



By action is meant, an event or occurrence, 
arranged according to a controlling idea, and hav- 
ing its meaning made apparent by the characters. 
It is composed of many elements, and consists in a 
number of dramatic efficients {jnomente^, which 
become effective one after the other, according to 
a regular arrangement. The action of the serious 
drama must possess the following qualities : 

// must prese?it complete unity. 

This celebrated law has undergone a very differ- 


ent application with the Greeks and Romans, with 
the Spanish and French, with Shakespeare and the 
Germans, which has been occasioned partly by 
those learned in art, partly by the character of the 
stage. The restriction of its claims through the 
French classics, and the strife of the Germans with 
the three unities, of place, of time, and of action, 
have for us only a literary-historical interest.^ 

No dramatic material, however perfectly its con- 
nections with other events have been severed, is 
independent of something presupposed. These in- 
dispensable presupposed circumstances must be so far 
f presented to the hearer, in the opening scenes, that 
' he may first survey the groundwork of the piece, 
not in detail, indeed, lest the field of the action 
itself, be limited ; then immediately, time, people, 
place, establishment -of suitable relations between 
^ the chief persons who appear, and the unavoidable 
' threads which come together in these, from what- 
ever has been left outside the action. When, for 
instance, in Love and Intrigue, an already exist- 
ing love affair forms the groundwork, the hearer 
must be given a sharp informing glance into this rela- 
tion of the two leading characters, and into the fam- 
ily life from which the tragedy is to be developed. 
Moreover, in the case of historical material, which 
is furnished by the vast and interminable connec- 
tions of the great events of the world, this exposi- 
tion of what has gone before is no easy undertaking ; 
and the poet must take heed that he simplify it as 
much as possible. 


^ From this indispensable introduction, the begin- 

ning of the impassioned action must arise, like the 
first notes of a melody from the introductory 
chords. This first stir of excitement, this stimu- 
lating impulse, is of great importance for the effect 
of the drama, and will be discussed later. The end of 
js the action must, also, appear as the intelligible and 
' inevitable result of the entire course of the action, 
the conjunction of forces ; and right here, the inher- 
ent necessity must be keenly felt ; the close must, 
however, represent the complete termination of 
the strife and excited conflicts. 

Within these limits, the action must move for- 
ward with uniform consistency. This internal 
consistency is produced by representing an event 
. which follows another, as an effect of which that 
other is the evident cause ; let that which occa- 
sions, be the logical cause of occurrences, and the 
new scenes and events be conceived as proba- 
ble, and generally understood results of previous 
actions ; or let that which is to produce an effect, 
. be a generally comprehensible peculiarity of a 
' character already made known. If it i s unavoid- 
able. Jka^jiMll^SJ^^?^^^^^^^ q£'?Y?5|s, riew incidents 
appear, unexpected to the auditor, or very surpris- 
ing, these must be explained imperceptibly, but 
perfectly, through what has preceded. This laying 
i the foundation of the drama is called, assigning the 
^ motive i^motivireii) . Through the motives, the 
elements of the action are bound into an artistic, 
* connected whole. This binding together of inci- 


dents by the free creation of a causative connec 
tion, is the distinguishing characteristic of this 
species of art. Through this linking together of 
incidents, dramatic idealization is effected. 

Let the remodeling of a narrative into a dramatic 
action serve as an example. There lived in Verona 
two noble families, in enmity and feuds of long 
standing. As chance would have it, the son of one 
family, together with his companions, play the pre- 
sumptuous trick of thrusting themselves disguised 
into a masked ball, given by the chief of the other 
house. At this ball the intruder beholds the daugh- 
ter of his enemy, and in both arises a reckless pas- 
sion. They determine upon a clandestine marriage 
and are wedded by the father confessor of the 
maiden. Then fate directs that the new bridegroom 
is betrayed into a conflict with the cousin of his 
bride, and because he has slain him in the duel, is 
banished from his country by the prince of the land, 
under penalty of death. Meantime a distinguished 
suitor has visited the parents to sue for the hand of 
the newly married wife. The father disregards the 
despairing entreaties of his daughter, and appoints 
the day for the marriage. In these fearful circum- 
stances, the young woman receives from her priest, 
a sleep-potion which shall give her the appearance 
of death; the priest undertakes to remove her pri- 
vately from the coffin and communicate her embar- 
rassing situation to her distant husband. But again 
an unfortunate chance directs that the husband, in a 
foreign land, is informed of the death of his wife, 


before the messenger of the priest arrives. He has- 
tens, in secret, back to his native city, and forces his 
way into the vault, where lies the body of his wife. 
Unfortunately, he meets there the man destined by 
her parents to be her bridegroom, kills him, and 
upon the coffin of his beloved, drinks the fatal 
poison. The loved one awakes, sees her dying hus- 
band, and stabs herself with his dagger.* 

This narrative is a simple account of a striking 
occurrence. The fact, that all this so happened, is 
told ; how and why it so came about, does not mat- 
ter. The sequence of narrated incidents possesses 
no close connection. Chance, the caprice of fate, 
an unaccountable conjunction of unfortunate forces, 
occasions the progress of events and the catastrophe. 
Indeed, just this striking sport of chanCe is what 
gives enjoyment. Such a material appears specially 
unfavorable for the drama ; and yet a great poet has 
made from it one of his most beautiful plays. 

The facts have remained, on the whole, un- V 
changed; only their connection has become different. 
The task of the poet was not to present the facts to v 
us, on the stage, but to make them perceptible in 1 
the feeling, desire, and action of his persons, to 
make them more evident, to develop them in accord- 
ance with probability and reason. He had, in the 
first place, to set forth what was naturally prereq- 
uisite to the action ; the brawls in an Italian city, 
in a time when swords were carried, and combative- 
ness quickly laid hand to weapon, the leaders of 
both parties, the ruling power which had trouble to 


restrauTthe" rcstie^s within proper limits ; then the 
determination of the Capulets to give a banquet. 
Then he must represent the merry conceit which 
brought Romeo and his attendants into the Capu- 
lets' house. This exciting impulse, the beginning 
of the action, must not appear an accident ; it must 
be accounted for from the characters. Therefore it 
was necessary to introduce the companions of 
Romeo, fresh, in uncontrolled, youthful spirits, play- 
ing with life. To this necessity for establishing 
motives, Mercutio owes his existence. In contrast 
with his mad companions, the poet had fashioned 
the dejected Romeo, whose nature, even before his 
entrance into the excited action, must express its 
amorous passion. Hence his vagaries about Rosa- 
lind. This availed to make probable the awakening 
passion of the lovers. For this, the masque-scene 
and the balcony-scene were constructed. Every 
enchantment of poetry is here used to the greatest 
purpose, to make apparent, conceivable and as a 
matter of course, that henceforward the sweet pas- 
sion of the lovers determines their lives. 

The accessory figures, which enter into the piece 
from this point, must forward the complication, and 
aid in giving motive toward the tragic outcome. 
For the narrative, it was sufficient that a priest per- 
formed the marriage rites, and gave direction to the 
unfortunate intrigue ; such aids have always been at 
hand ; as soon, however, as he himself has stepped 
upon the stage, and by his words has entered the 
action, he must receive a personality which accounts 


for all that follows ; — he must be good-hearted and 
sympathetic, and through his goodness of heart, 
merit full confidence ; he must be unpracticed, and 
inclined to quiet artifices as frequently the better 
priests of the Italian church are, in order to venture 
later, the doubtful play of death for his penitent. 
Thus originated Laurence. 

After the wedding, the unfortunate affair with 
Tybalt comes into the story. Here the dramatic 
poet had special motive in taking from the charac- 
ter entering so suddenly, all that was merely casual. 
It could not suffice for him to introduce Tybalt as a 
hot-headed brawler ; without letting the spectator 
see his purpose, he must lay the foundation in what 
had gone before, for the peculiar hatred toward 
Romeo and his companions. Hence the little side 
scene at the masked ball, in which Tybalt's anger 
flames up at the intrusion of Romeo. And in this 
scene itself, the poet had to bring to bear the 
strongest motive, to compel Romeo to engage in 
the. duel. Mercutio must first be slain for this 
reason, and for the further purpose of heightening 
the tragic power of the scene, and accounting for 
the wrath of the prince. 

To send Romeo immediately into banishment, as 
is done in the narrative, would be impossible in the 
drama. To show the spectator that the loving pair 
were bound inseparably to each other, there was the 
most pressing necessity to give to their excited pas- 
sion the deepest intensity. How the poet succeeded 
in this is known to all. The scene on the marriage 


eve is the climax of the action ; and by poetic elab- 
oration, which need not be explained here, it arises 
to the highest beauty. But this scene was neces- 
sary on other grounds. Juliet's character renders 
necessary a rising into what is noble. It must be 
shown that the lovely heroine is capable of magnif- 
icent emotion, of mighty passion in order that her 
later, despairing determination may be found con- 
sistent with her nature. Her marvellous inward 
conflict over Tybalt's death and Romeo's banish- 
ment must precede the wedding night, to impart to 
her nuptial longing the beautifully pathetic element 
which increases the interest in this always delicate 
scene. But even the possibility of this scene must 
be made clear. Its accessory persons. Friar Lau- 
rence and the nurse, are again significant. The 
character of the nurse, one of Shakespeare's unsur- 
passable inventions, is, likewise, not fashioned acci- 
dentally ; just as she is, she is a suitable accomplice ; 
and she makes explicable Juliet's inward withdrawal 
from her and the catastrophe. 

Immediately after her wedding night, the com- 
mand is given to Juliet to be married to Paris. That 
the beautiful daughter of the wealthy Capulet would 
find a distinguished suitor, and that her father, — for 
whose hot-headedness a sufficient ground has already 
been laid, — would exercise harsh compulsion in the 
matter, would be conceded by the hearer without 
further preparation, as probable and a matter of 
course. But it is a matter of much consequence to 
the dramatist, to lay beforehand the foundation for 


this important event. Already, before the marriage 
of Juliet, he has Paris receive her father's promise; 
he would throw this dark* shadow upon the great 
love scene ; and he would account right distinctly, 
and to the common understanding for the approach- 
ing calamity. 

Now the fate of the loving pair has been put into 
the weak hands of Friar Laurence. Up to this 
point, the drama has carefully excluded every 
intrusion of any chance. Even to the jnost minute 
accessory fact, all is accounted for by the kind of 
characters. Now a tremendous destiny is weighing 
down upon two unfortunates : spilled blood, deadly 
family hate, a clandestine marriage, banishment, 
a new wooing, — all this is pressing upon the hearer's 
sensibility with a certain compulsion. The intro- 
duction of little explanatory motives is no longer 
effective, and no longer necessary. Now the strata- 
gem of the stupid visionary priest can be thwarted 
by an accident; for the feeling that it was des- 
perate and presumptuous in the highest degree, to 
expose a living person to the incalculable chances 
of a sleep -potion and burial, has become so strong 
in the hearer's mind, that he already considers anr 
unhappy result as probable. 

Thus the catastrophe is introduced and given a 
foundation. But that the hope of a happy outcome 
may entirely vanish from the mind of the spectator, 
and that the inherent necessity of ruin may yet at 
the last moment overtop the foreboding of unavoid- 


able fatalities in the burial vault, Romeo must slay 
Paris before the tomb. 

The death of this stranger is the last force fur- 
thering the sad end of the lovers. Even when 
Juliet now in a fortunate moment awakes, her path 
and Romeo's is so overflowed with blood, that any 
good fortune, or even life, has become improbable 
to them. 

The task undertaken here has been only to point 
out in a few chief particulars the contrast between 
inner dramatic unification and epic narration. The 
piece contains still an abundance of other motives ; 
and even the minute details are so dovetailed and 
riveted as to evince the dramatist's special pur- 

The internal unity of a dramatic action is not 
secured merely by making a succession of events 
appear as the deeds and sufferings of the same hero. 
No great fundamental law of dramatic creation is 
more frequently violated, even by great poets, than 
this one ; and this disregard has always interfered 
with the effects of even the power of genius. The 
Athenian stage suffered on this account ; and Aris- 
totle attempted to meet the evil, when in his firm 
way he said: "The action is the first and most 
important thing, the characters only second;" and, 
"The action is not given unity by being made to 
concern only one person." Especially, we later 
ones; who are most frequently attracted by the 
charm of historical material, have urgent reason to 
cling to the law, that union about a person alone 


does not suffice to gather and bind the events into 

It still frequently happens that a poet undertakes 
to present the life of an heroic prince, as he is at 
variance with his vassals, as he wages war with his 
neighbors and the church, and is again reconciled to 
them, and as he finally perishes in one of these con- 
flicts; the poet distributes the principal moving forces 
of the historical life among the five acts and three 
hours of the acting play, makes in speech and re- 
sponse an exposition of political interests and party 
standpoints, interweaves well or ill a love episode, 
and thinks to have changed the historical picture 
into a poetic one. He is positively a weak-hearted 
destroyer of history, and no priest of his proud god- 
dess. What he has produced is not history, and 
not drama. He has, sure enough, yielded to some 
of the demands of his art ; he has omitted weighty 
events which did not suit his purpose ; he has fash- 
ioned the character of his hero simply and accord- 
ing to rule, has not been sparing in additions, small 
and great, has here and there substituted for the 
complicated connections of historical events, invented 
ones. Through all this, however, he has attained a 
general effect which is at best a weak reflection of 
the sublime effect that the life of the hero would 
have produced, if well presented by the historian; 
i^and his error has been in putting the historic idea in 
the place of the dramatic idea. 

Even the poet who thinks more worthily of his 
art, is in danger, when busied with historical matter, 


of seeking a false unity. The historical writer has 
taught him that the shifting events of historic life 
are accounted for by the peculiarities of characters, 
which assume results, which conjure up a fatality. 
The effect which the intimate connections of an his- 
toric life produce, is powerful, and excites wonder. 
Determined by such a force of the real, the poet 
seeks to comprehend the inner connections of events 
in the characteristic elements of the hero's life. 
The character of the hero is to him the last motive 
in laying the foundation for the various vicissitudes 
of an active existence. A German prince, for ex- 
ample, powerful and high spirited, is forced by sheer 
violence into conflicts and submission; in heart-rend- 
ing humiliation and deepest abasement, he finds 
again his better self, and subdues his soaring pride ; 
such a character may possess all the qualities of a 
dramatic hero, — what is universally comprehensible 
and significant gushes forth powerfully from the 
casual in his earthly life ; and his lot in life shows 
a relation between guilt and punishment, which 
takes hold of men's minds ; he appears as the artif- 
icer of his own happiness or misery ; the germ and 
essence of his life may be very like a poetic idea. 
But just before such a similarity, let the poet pause 
in distrust. He has to ask himself whether through 
his art he can infuse anything more powerful or 
effective than the story itself offers ; or, indeed, 
whether he is at all in a position to enlarge through 
his art any part of the effects which, perceiving in 
advance, he admires in the historical material. Of 


course he may intensify the character of his hero. 
What was working in the soul of Henry IV. as he 
journeyed toward Canossa and stood in his peni- 
tential garment by the castle wall, is the secret of 
the poet ; the historian knows very little to tell 
about it. To such impelling forces of a real life, 
the poet has an inalienable right. But the dispo- 
sition and transformations of the historical hero 
do not fashion . themselves completely in short 
periods of personal isolation ; and what the poet was 
lured by was exactly an heroic nature whose original 
texture showed itself in various occurrences. Now 
these occurrences which the historian reports, are 
very numerous. The poet is obliged to limit him- 
self to a very few. He is obliged to remodel these 
few in order to give them the significance which in 
reality the course of the whole had. He will see 
with astonishment how difficult this is, and how by 
this means his hero becomes smaller and weaker, 
and that his historic idea is completed with so little. 
But, even in the representation of these selected 
events, the poet is poorer than the historian. Every 
one of his impelling forces must have an introduc- 
tion that will account for it ; he mnst introduce to 
the spectator his Hannos, his Ottos, his Rudolphs 
and Henrys ; he must to a certain extent make 
their affairs attractive ; two or three times in the 
piece he will create excitement, then allay it ; the 
persons will throng and conceal each other on the 
narrow stage ; the rising interest of hearers will 
every now and then relapse. He will make the 


astonishing discovery that the hearer's suspense is 
usually not produced by the characters, however 
interesting these may be, but only through the prog- 
ress of the action ; and he will at best attain only 
one or the other greatly elaborated scene with pure 
dramatic life, which stands alone in a desert of 
sketchy, brief suggestions of mutilated history, and 
cramped invention. 

Engaged in such labor upon the abundant beau- 
tiful material offered in history, the poet has proba- 
bly often abandoned the material without seeing its 
beauty. To idealize an entire political human life 
is a prodigious undertaking. Cyclic dramas, trilo- 
gies, tetralogies, may in most cases scarcely sufifice 
for this. A single historic movement may give the 
dramatist superabundant material. For, as faith 
begins when knowledge ends, so poetry begins when 
history leaves off. What history is able to declare 
can be to the poet only the frame within which he 
paints his most brilliant colors, the most secret 
revelations of human nature ; how shall space and 
Mnward freedom remain to him for this, when he 
must toil and moil to present a succession of his- 
torical events? Schiller has made use, in his two 
greatest historical pieces, of the historical catas- 
trophe only, the last scenes of a real historical life ; 
and for so small an historic segment he has required 
in Wallenstein three dramas. Let this example be 
taken to heart. It is true Gbtz von Bcrlichingen will 
always be considered a very commendable poem, 
because the chivalric anecdotes which are excel- 


lently presented with short, sharp strokes, hold the 
reader spellbound ; but upon the stage the piece is 
not an effective drama ; and the same is true of 
Egmont, although its feeble action, and the lack of 
characterization of its hero, is to a certain extent 
compensated for m the greater elaboration of its 
vigorous female characters. 

Concerning the artless treatment of historical 
material through the epic traditions of our old stage, 
Shakespeare, above all others, has given hints to 
the Germans. His historic plays, taken from Eng- 
lish history, the structure of which, except Richard 
III. we should not imitate, had a far different justi- 
fication. At that time there was no writing of his- 
tory, as we understand the term ; and as the poet 
made use of material from historic resources for his 
artistic figures, he wrought from an abundance, and 
opened up the immediate past to his nation, in a 
multitude of masterly character sketches. But he, 
himself, achieved for the stage of his time the 
wonderful advance to a complete action ; and we 
owe to him, after he began to make use of the 
material in Italian novels, our comprehension of how 
irreplaceable the noble effects are which are pro- 
duced by a unified and well-ordered action. His 
Roman plays, if one makes allowance for a few of 
the practices of his stage, and the third act of 
A?ito?iy and Cleopatra, are models of an established 
construction. We do not do well to imitate what 
he has overcome. 

Without doubt, the influence of the characters on 


the texture of the action, is greater in the modern 
drama than on the stage of the ancients. As the 
first impulse toward creation comes to the Germanic 
mind frequently through the characteristic features 
of an historic hero ; as the delineation of the charac- 
ters and their representation by actors have received 
a finer finish than was possible in the Greek masque 
tragedy, so will the character of the hero exert 
greater influence on the structure of the action, but 
only that we may thereby account for the inner, 
consistent, unified action through the characteristic 
peculiarities of the hero. Such an establishing of 
motive was not unknown to the Greeks. Already 
in one of the older plays of ^Eschylus, The Suppli- 
ants, the vacillating character of the King of Argos 
is made so prominent that one distinctly recognizes 
how, in the missing piece which followed, the poet 
had laid the motive in this for the surrender of the 
Danaids, who were begging protection. Sophocles 
is specially skilful in introducing as controlling 
motive some marked trait of his characters, for 
example, Antigone, Ajax, Odysseus. Indeed, 
Euripides is even more like the Germans than 
Sophocles in this, that he delights in making more 
prominent the peculiarities of his characters. In 
general, however, the epic trend of the fable was 
much stronger than with us ; as a rule the persons 
were fashioned according to the demands of a well 
known and already prepared network of events, as 
in the case of Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, Orestes. 
This was an advantage to the Greeks, but to us it 


seems a restraint. With us the poet not seldom 
finds himself in the position, that his hero is seeking 
an action which shall be a luminous center, throw- 
ing light on everything that approaches it. We will 
be able to explain, from his nature, what is more 
profound and hidden. But however rigidly we con- 
struct the action according to his needs, it must 
always be composed of individual parts which belong 
to the same event, and this must extend from the 
beginning to the end of the piece. Among the 
Greeks, Sophocles is our master in the management 
of this dramatic unity, Euripides unconscionably 
against it. How, in his serious plays, Shakespeare 
disclosed this law to himself, and gradually to us, 
in the face ' of the sixteenth century stage, has 
already been mentioned. Among the Germans, 
Lessing preserves the unity with great care ; Goethe, 
in the short action of Clavigo, and in the later plays 
in which he had thought of the stage — Tasso and 
Iphigcnia. Schiller has observed the law faithfully in 
Love and hitrigue. Is it an accident that in his last 
plays, in Tell, and in Demetrius, so far as this play 
may be judged from notices of it, he has neglected 
the law? Whenever he approached the bounds of 
license, it occurred through his delight in episodes 
and in double heroes, as in Don Carlos, Mary Stuart, 
and Walle?istei?i. 

Of kinds of material, those taken from epic leg- 
ends make it not difficult to preserve the unity of 
action ; but their action does not easily permit dra- 
matic elaboration of characters. Material from 


novels preserves well the unity of action, but the 
characters, on account of the entangled action, are 
easily thrown about with too little freedom of move- 
ment, or they are restrained in their movement 
through the portrayal of situations. Historical 
material offers the greatest and most beautiful 
opportunities ; but it is very difficult to combine it 
into a good action. 

The poet's interest in the characters of his 
counter-players easily mounts so high that to them 
is accorded a rich, detailed portrayal, a sympathetic 
exposition of their striving and their fighting moods, 
and a peculiar destiny. Thereby arises a double 
action for the drama ; or the action of the piece 
may be of such a nature as to require for its illu- i 
mination and completion a subordinate action, which 
through the exposition of concurrent or opposing 
relations brings into greater prominence the chief 1 
persons, with what they do and what they suffer. 

Various defects — especially one-sidedness — in 
material, may make such a completion desirable. 
One play is not to run through the whole wide 
range of affecting and thrilling moods ; it is not to 
play from its sober ground color, through all the 
possible color-tones ; but a variation in mood and 
modest contrasts in color are as necessary to the 
drama as it is that in a painting in which there are 
many figures, the swing of the lesser lines should \ 
be in contrast with the greater lines and groups, and I 
that in contrast with the ground color, use should 
be made of dependent, supplementary colors. A 


specially somber material renders necessary the 
introduction of bright accessory figures. To con- 
trast with the defiant characters of Iphigenia and 
Creon, the milder counterparts, Ismene and Haemon, 
were invented ; through the introduction of Tec- 
messa, the despair of Ajax receives an affecting 
tone, the magic charm of which we still feel to-day. 
The gloomy, pathetic Othello requires opposed to 
him some one in whom the unrestrained freedom 
of humor is apparent. The somber figure of Wal- 
lenstein and his companions in intrigue imperatively 
demands that the brilliant Max be joined with them. 
If, for this reason, the Greeks classed their plays 
into those with single action, and those with double 
action, the modern drama has much less avoided 
the extension of counter-play into an accessory 
action. The interweaving of this with the main 
action has occurred sometimes at the expense of the 
combined effect. The Germans, especially, who 
are always inclined, during their labor, to grasp the 
significance of the accessory persons with great 
ardor, must guard themselves against too wide an 
extension of the subordinate action. Even Shakes- 
peare has occasionally, in this way, injured the 
effect of the drama, most strikingly in Leat% in 
which the whole parallel action of the house of 
Gloucester, but loosely connected with the main 
action, and treated with no particular fondness, 
retards the movement, and needlessly renders the 
whole more bitter. The poet allowed the episodes 
in both parts of He?iry IV. to develop into an 


accessory action, the immortal humor of which out- 
shines the serious effect of the play ; and this has 
made these dramas favorites of the reader. Every 
admirer of Falstaff will grant, however, that the 
general effect on the stage has not the correspond- 
ing power, in spite of this charm. Let it be noticed, 
in passing, that in Shakespeare's comedies the 
double action belongs to the nature of the play ; he 
strives to take from his clowns the episodical, while 
he interweaves them with the serious action. The 
genial humor which beams from their scenes must 
sometimes conceal the harder elements in the 
material ; as when the constables must help to pre- 
vent the sad fate threatening the heroine. Among 
Grerman poets, Schiller was most in danger of injury 
from the double action. The disproportion of the 
accessory action in Don Carlos and Mary Stuart 
rests upon this, that his ardor for the character set 
in contrast to the hero, becomes too great ; in Wal- 
lenstein, the same principle has extended the piece to 
a trilogy. In Tell, three actions run parallel.^ 

fc It is the business of the action to represent to us 
I the inner consistency of the event, as it corresponds 

^ to the demands of the intellect and the heart. 

^ Whatever, in the crude material, does not serve this 
purpose, the poet is in duty bound to throw away. 
And it is desirable that he adhere strictly to this 
principle, to give only what is indispensable to unity. 
Yet he may not avoid a deviation from this ; for 
there will be occasional deviations desirable which 


may strengthen the color of the piece, in a manner 


conformable to its purpose ; which may intensify 
the meaning of the characters, and enhance the gen- 
eral effect by the introduction of a new color, or a 
contrast. These embellishing additions of the poet 
are called episodes. They are of various kinds. At 
a point where the action suffers a short pause, a 
characterizing moment may be enlarged into a situ- 
ation ; opportunity may be given a hero to exhibit 
some significant characteristic of his being in an 
attractive manner, in connection with some subordi- 
nate person ; some subordinate role of the piece 
may, through ampler elaboration, be developed into 
an attractive figure. By a modest use, which must 
not take time from what is more important, these 
may become an embellishment to the drama. And 
the poet has to treat them as ornaments, and to com- 
pensate for them with serious work, if they ever 
retard the action. The episodes perform different 
duties, according to the parts of the drama in which 
they appear. While at the beginning they enter into 
the roles of the chief persons to delineate these in 
their idiosyncracies, they are allowed in the last part 
as enlargements of those new roles which afford les- 
ser aids to the movement of the action ; in each 
place, however, they must be felt to be advantageous 

The Greeks understood this word in a somewhat 
broader sense. That which in the plays of Sopho- 
cles his contemporaries called episode, we no longer 
so name : for the ingenious art of this great master 
consisted, among other things, in this, that he inter- 


wove his beautifying additions very intimately with 
his action, for the most part to set the characters of 
the chief heroes in a stronger light, by means of 
contrast. Thus, in Electra, in addition to the Ismene 
scene, mentioned later, Chrysomethis is indispensa- 
ble according to our feeling for the chief heroine, 
and no longer as episode, but as part of the action. 
Moreover, where he paints a situation more broadly, 
as in the beginning of CEdipus at Colo?ws, such a por- 
trayal corresponds throughout to the customs of our 
stage. Shakespeare treats his episodes almost 
exactly in the same way. Even in those serious 
plays, which have a more artistic construction, there 
are, in almost every act, partly extended scenes, 
partly whole roles of episodical elaboration ; but 
there is so much of the beautiful worked in and with 
this, so much that is efficient for the combined 
effect, that the severest manager of our stage, who 
may be compelled to shorten the drama, rarely 
ever allows these passages to be expunged. Mer- 
cutio, with his Queen Mab, and the jests of the 
nurse, the interviews of Hamlet with the players and 
courtiers, as well as the grave-digger scene, are such 
examples as recur in almost all his plays. Almost 
superabundantly, and with apparent carelessness, 
the great artist adorns all parts of his piece with 
golden ornaments ; but he who approaches to unclasp 
them, finds them fastened as if with steel, grown 
inseparably into what they adorn. Of the Germans, 
Lessing, with a reverential regularity joined his epi- 
sodes to the carefully planned structure of his piece, 


according to his own method, which was transferred 
to his successors. His episodes are little character 
roles. The painter and countess Orsina, in Emilia 
Galotti (the last, the better prototype of Lady Mil- 
ford), Riccault, in Minna von Barnhelm, indeed, 
even the Dervise in Natha?i The Wise, became models 
for the German episodes of the eighteenth century. 
Goethe has not honored them with a place in his 
regular plays, Clavigo, Tasso, Iphigeiiia. In Schiller, 
they throng abundantly in every form, as portrayals, 
as detailed situations, as accessory figures in the 
conjoined action. Frequently, through their pecul- 
iar beauty, they are adapted to be effective adjuncts 
to the stilted, tedious movement, but not always; 
for we would gladly spare some single ones, like 
Parricida in William Tell, just because in this case 
the understood purpose is so striking; and The 
Black Knight in the Maid of Orleam; and not sel- 
dom the long-drawn observations and delineations 
in his dialogue-scenes. 



The actio7i of the serious drama must be probable. 

Poetic truth is imparted to material taken from 
real life, by its being raised above its casual connec- 
tions and receiving a universally understood mean- 
ing and significance. In dramatic poetry, this 
transformation of reality with poetic truth is effected 
thus : the essential parts, bound together and unified r- 
by some causative connection, and all the accessory ^ 


I inventions, are conceived as probable and credible 
'.motives of the represented events. But more than 
this, poetic truth is needed in the drama. The 
entertained hearer surrenders himself gladly to the 
invention of the poet ; he gladly lets the presump- 
tion of a piece please him, and is in general quite 
inclined to approve of the invented human relations 
% in the world of beautiful illusion ; but he is not able 
entirely to forget the reality ; he holds close to this 
poetic picture, which rises full of charm before him, 
the picture of the real world in which he breathes. 
He brings with him before the stage a certain 
knowledge of historical relations, definite, ethical 
and moral demands upon human life, presages and 
a clear knowledge of the course of events. To a 
certain extent, it is impossible for him to renounce 
this purport of his own life ; and sometimes he feels 
A it very strongly when the poetic picture contradicts 
it. That ocean vessels should land on the coast of 
Bohemia, that Charlemagne should use cannon, 
appears to our spectators a serious mistake. 

That the Jew, Shylock, is promised mercy if he 
will turn Christian, shocks the moral sense of the 
spectator, and he is probably not inclined to concede 
that a just judge has so decided. That Thoas, who 
in so refined and dignified a manner seeks the hand 
of the priestess Iphigenia, allows human sacrifices in 
his kingdom, appears as an internal contradiction 
between the noble personality of the characters and 
the presuppositions of the piece ; and however 
' shrewdly the poet conceals this irrational element, it 


yet may be injurious to the effect of the play. That 
CEdipus rules many years without troubling himself 
about the death of Laius, appears to the Athenians, 
even at the first presentation of the play, as a doubt- 
ful supposition. 

Now it is well known that this picture of the 
real, which the spectator holds up against the single 
drama, does not remain the same in every century, 
but is changed by each advance of human culture. 
The interpretation of past times, moral and social 
demands, the social relations, are nothing firmly 
established ; but every spectator is a child of his 
time ; for each the comprehension of what is com- 
monly acceptable, is limited through his personality 
and the culture of his age. 

And it is further clear that this picture of real 
life shades off differently in the mind of each per- 
son, and that the poet, however fully and richly he 
has taken into his own life the culture of his race 
still is confronted with conceptions of reality in a 
thousand different tones. He has, indeed, the great 
calling to be, in his time, the apostle of the highest 
and most liberal culture, and without posturing as a 
teacher, to draw his hearers upward toward himself. 
But to the dramatic poet there are for this reason 
private bounds staked out. He must not exceed 
these bounds. He must not, in many cases, leave 
vacant any of the space which they enclose. Where 
they arise invisible, they may be divined in each 
single case only through delicate sensibility and 
trustworthy feeling. 


The effects of dramatic art are, so to speak, 
sociable. As the dramatic work of art, in a 
combination of several arts, is represented through 
the general activity of numerous adjuncts, so is the 
audience of the poet a body composed of many 
changing individuals and yet, as a whole, a unit, 
which like every human congregation, might- 
ily influences the individuals who compose it ; a 
certain agreement in feeling and contemplation 
develops, elevates one, depresses another, and to a 
great extent equalizes mood and judgment through a 
common opinion. This community of feeling in the 
audience expresses itself continually by its reception 
of the dramatic effects ; it may increase their power 
prodigiously, it may weaken them in an equal 
degree. Scarcely will a single hearer escape the 
influence which an unsympathetic house or an enthu- 
siastic audience exercisep on him. Indeed, everyone 
has felt how different the impression is which the 
same piece makes, equally well presented on different 
stages before a differently constituted audience. 
The poet, while composing, is invariably directed, 
perhaps without knowing it, by his conception of 
the intelligence, taste, and intellectual requirements 
of his audience. He knows that he must not 
attribute too much to it, nor dare he offer it too 
little. He must, moreover, so arrange his action 
that it shall not bring into collision with its presup- 
positions a good average of his hearers, who bring 
these from actual life before the stage ; that is, he 
must make the connection of events and the motives 


and outlines of his heroes probable. If he succeeds 
in this respect with the groundwork of his piece, the 
action and the outlines of his characters, as for the 
rest, he may trust to his hearers the most refined 
culture and the keenest understanding which his 
performance contains. 

This consideration must guide the poet most 
p when he is tempted to put forward what is strange 
or marvellous. To make charming what is strange, 
is, indeed, possible. The dramatic art specially has 
rich means of making it understood, and of laying 
stress upon what is intelligible to us ; but for this 
there is needed a special expenditure of force and 
time; and frequently the question is justified, whether 
the effect aimed at warrants the expenditure of time 
and compensates for the limitation of the essentials 
occasioned. Especially the newer poets, with no 
definitely marked out field of material, in the midst 
of a period of culture to which the ready reception 
of extraneous pictures is peculiar, can easily be 
enticed to gather material from the culture-relations, 
the civilization of a dark age, of remote peoples. 
Perhaps just what is marvellous in such material has 
appeared peculiarly valuable for sharply delineating 
individual portraiture. Already a minute observa- 
tion of early times in Germany, or of the old world, 
offers numerous peculiarities, circumstances unknown 
to the life of later times, in which a striking and 
significant meaning is manifested of highest import 
to the historian of culture. These can be used 
by the poet, however, only in exceptional cases, 


with most skilful treatment, and as accessories 
which deepen a color. For not out of the pecul- 
iarities of human life, but out of its immortal 
import, out of what is common to us and to 
the old times, blossom his successes. Still more 
he will avoid presenting such strange peoples 
as stand entirely outside the great forward move- 
ments of civilization. That which is unusual in 
their manners and customs, their costumes, or even 
the color of their skins, is distracting and excites 
attendant images which are unfavorable to serious art 
effects. In a crude way, the ideal world of poetry 
is joined in the hearer's mind with a picturing of 
real circumstances, which can claim an interest only 
because they are real. But even the inner life of 
such foreigners is unsuitable for dramatic expres- 
sion ; for, without exception, the capability is in 
reality wanting in them of presenting in any fulness 
the inner mental processes which our art finds 
necessary. And the transferring of such a degree 
of culture into their souls, rightly arouses in the 
hearer a feeling of impropriety. Anyone who would 
lay the scene of his action among the ancient Egypt- 
ians or the present-day fellahs, among the Japanese 
or even Hindoos, would perhaps awaken an ethno- 
graphic interest by the strange character of his 
people ; but this interest of curiosity in the unusual 
would not increase for the hearer before the stage 
the real interest in what may be the poetical mean- 
ing, but would thwart it and prejudice it. It is no 
accident that only such peoples are a fitting basis 


for the drama as have advanced so far in the devel- 
opment of their intellectual life that they themselves 
could produce a popular drama — Greeks, Romans, 
cultured peoples of modern times ; after these, 
a people nearly like them, whose nationality has 
grown up with ours, or with the ancient culture, like 
the Hebrews — scarcely yet the Turks. 

How far the marvellous may be deemed worthy 
of the drama, cannot be doubtful even to us Ger- 
mans, upon whose stage the most spirited and most 
amiable of all devils has received citizenship. Dra- 
matic poetry is poorer and richer than her sisters, 
lyric and epic, in this respect, that she can represent 
only men, and, if one looks more closely, only cul- 
tivated men, these, however, fully and profoundly 
as no other art can. She must arrange historical 
relations by inventing for them ah inner consistency 
which is thoroughly comprehensible to human under- 
standing. How shall she embody the supernatural? 

But granted that she undertakes this, she can do 
it only in so far as the superhuman, already poet- 
ically prepared through the imagination of the peo- 
ple, and provided with a personality corresponding to 
the human, is personifiable through sharply stamped 
features even to details. Thus given form, the Greek 
gods lived in the Greek world among their people ; 
thus hover among us still, fashioned with affection, 
images of many of the holy ones of Christian 
legend, almost numberless shadowy forms, from the 
household faith of German primitive times. Not a 
few of the images of fancy have, through poetry, 


legend, painting, and the spirit of our people, which, 
credulous or incredulous, is still busied with them, 
received so rich an amplification, that they sur- 
round the creating artist during his labor like old, 
trusted friends. The Virgin Mary, St. Peter at the 
gate of heaven, many saints, archangels, and angels, 
and not last the considerable swarm of devils, live 
among our people, credulously associated with 
women in white, the wild huntsman, elves, giants 
and dwarfs. But, however alluringly the colors 
gleam which they wear in their twilight, before the 
sharp illumination of the tragic stage, they vanish 
into unsubstantial shadows. For it is true they 
have received through the people a share in human 
feeling, and in the conditions of human life. But 
this participation is only of the epic kind ; they are 
not fashioned for dramatic mental processes. In 
some of the most beautiful legends, the Germans 
make the little spirits complain that they cannot be 
happy ; that is that they have no human soul. The 
same difference, which already in the middle ages 
the people felt, keeps them in a different way from 
the modern stage — inward struggles are wanting in 
them, freedom fails to test and to choose, they stand 
outside of morals, law, right; neither a complete 
lack of changeableness, nor perfected purity, nor 
complete wickedness are presentable, because they 
exclude all inward agitation. Even the Greeks felt 
this. When the gods should rather be represented 
on the stage than speak a command ex machina, 
they must either become entirely men, with all the 


pain and rage, like Prometheus, or they must sink 
beneath the nobility of human nature, without the 
poets being able to hinder, down to blank generali- 
zations of love and hate, like Athene, in the pro- 
logue of Ajax. 

While gods and spirits have a bad standing in 
the serit)us drama, they have far better success in 
the comedy. And the now worn-out magic tricks 
give only a very pale representation of what our 
spirit world could be to a poet, in whimsical and 
humorous representation. If the Germans shall 
ever be ripe for political comedy, then will they 
learn to use the wealth, the inexhaustible treasure 
of motives and resistance which can be mined from 
this world of phantasy, for droll freaks, political 
satire, and humorous portraiture. 

For what has been said, Faust is the best proof ; 
and in this play, the role of Mephistopheles. Here 
the genius of the greatest of German poets has 
created a stage problem which has become the 
favorite task of our character players. Each of 
them seeks in his own manner to solve, with credit 
to himself, the riddle which can not be solved ; the 
one brings out the mask of the old wood-cut devil, 
another, the cavalier youth Voland ; at best, the 
player will succeed with the business v/ho contents 
himself prudently and with spirit to render intel- 
ligible the fine rhetoric of the dialogue, and exhib- 
its in the comic scenes a suitable bearing and good 
humor. The poet has indeed made it exceedingly 
difficult for the player, of whom, during the com- 


position of the piece, he did not think at all ; for 
the role changes into all colors, from the true- 
hearted speech of Hans Sachs, to the subtle dis- 
cussion of a Spinozist, from the grotesque to the 
terrifying. And if one examines more closely how 
the representation of this piece still becomes pos- 
sible on the stage, the ultimate reason is the entrance 
of a comic element. Mephistopheles appears in 
some serious situations, but is a comic figure treated 
in a grand style ; and so far as he produces an effect 
on the stage, he does it in this direction. 

By this is not meant that the mysterious, that 
which has no foundation in human reason, should be 
entirely banished from the province of the drama. 
Dreams, portents, prophesyings, ghost-seers, the 
intrusion of the spirit world upon human life, every- 
thing for which there may be supposed to be a cer- 
tain susceptibility in the soul of the hearer, the poet 
may employ as a matter of course for the occasional 
strengthening of his effects. It is understood in 
this that he must appreciate rightly the susceptibil- 
ity of his contemporaries ; we are no longer much 
inclined to care for this, and only very sparing use 
of side effects is now accorded to the poet. Shake- 
speare was allowed to use this kind of minor 
accessories with greater liberty ; for in the senti- 
ments of evjen his educated contemporaries, the 
popular tradition was very vivid, and the connection 
with the world of spirits was universally conceived 
far differently. The soul-processes of a man strug- 
gling under a heavy burden, were, not only among 


the people but with the more pretentious, very dif- 
ferently thought of. In the case of intense fear, 
qualm of conscience, remorse, the power of imagin- 
ation conjured up before the sufferer the image of ,'• 
the frightful, still as something external ; the mur- 
derer saw the murdered rise before him as a ghost ; 
clutching into the air, he felt the weapon with which 
he committed the crime ; he heard the voice of the 
dead ringing in his ear. Shakespeare and his hear- 
ers conceived, therefore, Macbeth's dagger even on 
the stage, and the ghosts of Banquo, Caesar, the 
elder Hamlet, and the victims of Richard III., far 
differently from ourselves. To them this was not 
yet a bold, customary symbolizing of the inward 
struggles of their heroes, an accidental, shrewd 
invention of the poet, who supported his effects by 
this ghostly trumpery ; but it was to them the nec- 
essary method, customary in their land, in which 
themselves experienced, dread, horror, struggles of 
soul. Dread was not artistically excited by recol- 
lection of nursery tales ; the stage presented only 
what had been frightful in their own lives, or what 
could be. For while young Protestantism had laid 
the severest struggles in men's consciences, and 
while the thoughts and the most passionate moods 
of the excited soul had been already more carefully 
and critically observed by individuals, the mode of 
thinking natural to the middle ages, had not, for i' 
that reason, quite disappeared. Therefore Shake- 
speare could make use of this kind of effects, and 
expect more from them than we can. 


But he furnishes at the same time the best 
example of how these ghost-like apparitions may 
be rendered artistically worthy of the drama. Who- 
ever must present heroes of past centuries accord- 
ing to the view of life of their time, will not entirely 
conceal men's lack of freedom from and dependence 
on legendary figures ; but he will use them as Shake- 
speare used his witches in the first act of Macbeth, 
as arabesques which mirror the color and mood of 
the time, and which only give occasion for forcing 
from the inner man of the hero what has grown up 
in his own soul, with the liberty necessary for a dra- 
matic figure. 

It is to be observed that in the work of the mod- 
ern poet, such accessories of the action serve espe- 
cially to give color and mood. They belong also 
to the first half of the play. But even when they 
are interwoven with the effects of the later parts, 
their appearance must be arranged for in the first 
part, by a coloring in harmony with them ; and 
besides this, the way must be paved for them other- 
wise, with great care. Thus the appearance of The 
Black Knight in the Maid of Orleans is a disturbing 
element, because his ghostly form comes to view 
with no preparation of the audience, and is thor- 
oughly unsuitable to the brilliant, thoughtful lan- 
guage of Schiller, to the tone and color of the piece. 
The time and the action would, in themselves, have 
very well allowed such an apparition ; and it 
appeared to the poet a counterpart to the Blessed 
Virgin who bears banner and sword in the play. 


But Schiller did not bring the Blessed Virgin her- 
self upon the stage ; he only had her reported in his 
magnificent fashion. Had the prologue presented 
the decisive interview between the shepherdess and 
the Mother of God in such language and with such 
naive address as the material from the middle ages 
would suggest, then there would have been a better 
preparation for the later appearance of the evil 
spirit. In costume and speech, the role is not 
advantageously equipped. Schiller was an admira- 
ble master in the disposition of the most varied his- 
torical coloring ; but the glimmer of the legendar}^ 
was not to the taste of one who always painted in 
full colors, and if a playful simile is allowed, used 
most fondly, gleaming golden yellow, and dark sky 
blue. On the other hand, Goethe, the unrestrained 
master of lyric moods, has made an admirable use 
of the spirit-world to give color to Faust, but not at 
all with a view to its presentation on the stage. 


The actioii of the serious drajna must possess import- 
ance a?id magnitude. 

The struggles of individual men must affect their 
inmost life ; the object of the struggle must, accord- 
ing to universal apprehension, be a noble one, the 
treatment dignified. The characters must corre- 
spond to such a meaning of the action, in order that 
the play may produce a noble effect. If the action 


is constructed in conformity with the stated law, . 
and the characters are inadequate to the demands f 
thus created, or if the characters evince strong pas- - 
sion and extreme agitation, while these elements are 
wanting to the action, the incongruity is painfully 
apparent to the spectator. Euripides' Iphige?iia in 
Aulis contains what affords to the stage the most 
frightful struggles of the human soul ; but the char- 
acters, at least with the exception of Clytemnestra, 
are poorly invented, disfigured either through unnec- 
• essary meanness of sentiment, or through lack of 
force, or through sudden, unwarranted change of 
feeling ; thus Agamemnon, Menelaus, Achilles, 
Iphigenia. Again, in Shakespeare's Timoji of Athens, 
the character of the hero, from the moment when he 
is aroused to activity, has an ever-increasing energy 
and power, to which a gloomy grandeur is not at all 
lacking, but idea and action stand in incongruity 
with it. That a warm-hearted, trusting spendthrift 
should, after the loss of external possessions, become 
a misanthrope through the ingratitude and meanness 
of his former friends, presupposes the weakness of 
his own character and the pitiableness of his sur- 
roundings ; and this instability, lamentableness of 
all the relations represented, restrains the sympathy 
of the hearer in spite of great poetic skill. 

But even the environment, the sphere of life of 

I the hero, influences the dignity and magnitude of 

the action. We demand rightly that the hero 

whose fate is to hold us spellbound, shall possess a 

character whose force and worth shall exceed the 


measure of the average man. This force of his 
being, however, does not lie wholly in the energy of 
his will and the violence of his passion, but as well 
in his possessing a rich share of the culture, man- 
ners, and spiritual capacity of his time. He must 
be represented as superior in the important relations 
of his surroundings ; and his surroundings must be 
so created as easily to awaken in the hearer a keen 
interest. It is, therefore, no accident that when an 
action is laid in past time, it always seeks the 
realm in which what is greatest and most important 
is contained, the greatest affairs of a people, the life 
of its leaders and rulers, those heights of humanity 
that have developed not only a mighty spiritual sig- 
nificance, but also a significant power of will. 
Scarce any but the deeds and destinies of such com- 
manding figures have been handed down to us from 
the former times. 

With material from later times, the relations, of 
course, are changed. No longer are the most pow- 
erful passions and the sublimest soul-struggles to be 
recognized at courts and among political rulers 
alone, nor even generally. There remains, however, 
to these figures for the drama a pre-eminence which 
may be, for their life and that of their contempo- 
raries, a positive disadvantage. They are now less 
exposed to the compulsion which middle-class 
society exercises on the private citizen. They are 
not, to the same degree as the private citizen, sub- 
jected to civil law, and they know it. In domestic 
and foreign conflicts, their own self has not greater 


right but greater might. So they appear exposed 
to freer, more powerful temptation, and capable of 
greater self-direction. It must be added that the 
relations in which they live, and the directions in 
which they exert influence, offer the greatest wealth 
of colors and the most varied multiplicity of fig- 
ures. Finally the counterplay against their char- 
acters and against their purposes is most effective ; 
and the sphere of the interests for which they 
should live, embraces the most important affairs of 
the human race. 

The life of the private citizen has also been for 
centuries freeing itself from the external restraint of 
restricting traditions, has been gaining nobility and 
spiritual freedom, and become full of contradictions 
and conflicts. In any realm of reality, where 
worldly aims and movements resulting from the 
civilization of the times have penetrated, a tragic 
hero may be generated and developed in its atmos- 
phere. It depends only on whether a struggle is 
possible for him, which, according to the general 
opinion of the audience, has a great purpose, and 
whether the opposition to this develops a corre- 
sponding activity worthy of consideration. Since, 
however, the importance and greatness of the con- 
flict can be made impressive only by endowing the 
hero with the capability of expressing his inmost 
thought and feeling in a magnificent manner, with a 
certain luxuriance of language ; and since these 
demands increase among such men as belong to the 
life of modern times, — to the hero of the modern 


stage a suitable measure of the culture of the time 
is indispensable. For only in this way does he 
receive freedom of thought and will. Therefore, 
such classes of society as remain until our own 
time under the sway of epic relations, whose life 
is specially directed by the customs of their circle ; 
such classes as still languish under the pressure of 
circumstances which the spectator observes and 
decides to be unjust ; finally, such classes as are not 
specially qualified to transpose, in a creative man- 
ner, their thoughts and emotions into discourse, — 
such are not available for heroes of the drama, 
however powerfully passion works in their natures, 
however their feeling, in single hours, breaks out 
with spontaneous, native force. 

From what has been said, it follows that tragedy 
must forego grounding its movement on motives 
which the judgment of the spectator will condemn 
as lamentable, common, or unintelligible. Even 
such motives may force a man into violent conflicts 
with his environment ; but the dramatic art, con- 
sidered in general, may be in a position to turn such 
antagonisms to account. He who from a desire for 
gain, robs, steals, murders, counterfeits ; who from 
cowardice, acts dishonorably ; who through stu- 
pidity, short-sightedness, frivolity, and thoughtless- 
ness, becomes smaller and weaker than his relations 
demand, — he is not at all suitable for hero of a 
serious play. 

If a poet would completely degrade his art, and 
turn to account in the action of a play full of con- 


tention and evil tendency, the social perversion of 
real life, the despotism of the rich, the torments of 
the oppressed, the condition of the poor who receive 
from society only suffering, — by such work he 
would probably excite the sympathy of the audi- 
ence to a high degree ; but at the end of the play 
this sympathy would sink into a painful discord. 
The delineating of the mental processes of a com- 
mon criminal belongs to halls where trial by jury is 
held ; efforts for the improvement of the poor and 
oppressed classes should be an important part of 
our labor in real life ; the muse of art is no sister of 



The dramatic action must represent all that is im- 
portant to the understanding of the play, in the strong 
excitement of the characters, and in a continuously pro- 
gressive increase of effects. 

The action must, first of all, be capable of the 
strongest dramatic excitement ; and this must be 
universally intelligible. There are great and impor- 
tant fields of human activity, which do not make 
the growth of a captivating emotion, a passionate 
desire, or a mighty volition easy ; and again, there 
are violent struggles which force to the outside 
men's mental processes, while the subject of the 
struggle is little adapted to the stage, though impor- 
tance and greatness are not lacking to it. For 
example, a politic prince, who negotiates with the 


powerful ones of his land, who wages war and con- 
cludes peace with his neighbors, will perhaps do all 
this without once exhibiting the least excited pas- 
sion ; and if this does come to light as secret desire 
or resentment toward others, it will be noticeable 
only by careful observation, and in little ripples. 
But even when it is allowed to represent his whole 
being in dramatic suspense, the subject of his 
volition, a political success or a victory, is capable 
of being shown only very imperfectly and fragmen- 
tarily in its stage setting. And the scenes in which 
this round of worldly purposes is specially active, 
state trials, addresses, battles, are for technical rea- 
sons not the part most conveniently put on the 
stage. From this point of view, warning must be 
given against putting scenes from political history 
on the boards. Of course the difficulties which this 
field of the greatest human activity offers, are not 
unsurmountable ; but it requires not only maturity 
of genius but very peculiar and intimate knowledge 
of the stage to overcome them. But the poet will 
never degrade his action by reducing it to an imper- 
fect and insufficient exposition of such political 
deeds and aims ; he will need to make use of a 
single action, or a small number of actions, as a 
background, before which he presents — and in this 
he is infinitely superior to the historian — a most 
minute revelation of human nature, in a few per- 
sonages, and in their most intimate emotional rela- 
tions with each other. If he fails to do this, he will 
in so far falsify history without creating poetry. 


An entirely unfavorable field for dramatic mate- 
rial is the inward struggles which the inventor, the 
artist, the thinker has to suffer with himself and 
with his time. Even if he is a reformer by nature, 
who knows how to impress the stamp of his own 
spirit on thousands of others ; indeed, if his own 
material misfortunes may lay claim to unusual sym- 
pathy, the dramatist will not willingly conclude to 
bring him forward as the hero of the action. If the 
mental efforts, the mode of thought of such a hero, 
are not sufficiently known to the living audience, 
then the poet will have first to show his warrant for 
such a character by artful discourse, by a fulness of 
oral explanation, and by a representation of spiritual 
import. This may be quite as difficult as it is 
undramatic. If the poet presupposes in his auditors 
a living interest in such personages, acquaintance 
with the incidents of their lives, and makes use of 
this interest in order to avail himself of an occur- 
rence in the life of such a hero, he falls into another 
danger. On the stage the good which is known 
beforehand of a man, and the good that is reported 
of him, have no value at all, as opposed to what the 
hero himself does on the stage. Indeed, the great 
expectations which the hearer brings with him in 
this case, may be prejudicial to the unbiased recep- 
tion of the action.- And if the poet succeeds, as is 
probable in the case of popular heroes, in promoting 
the scenic effects through the already awakened 
ardor of the audience for the hero, he must credit 
his success to the interest which the audience brings 


with it, not to the interest which the drama itself 
has merited. If the poet is conscientious, he will 
adopt only those moments from the life of the artist, 
poet, thinker, in which he shows himself active and 
suffering quite as significantly toward others as he 
was in his studio. It is clear that this will be the 
case only by accident ; it is quite as clear that in 
such a case it will be only an accident, if the hero 
bears a celebrated name. Therefore, the making 
use of anecdotes from the life of such great men, the 
meaning of which does not show itself in the action 
but in the non-representable activity of their labor- 
atory, is intrinsically right undramatic. The great- 
ness in them is non-representable ; and what is 
represented borrows the greatness of the hero from 
a moment of his life lying outside the piece. The 
personality of Shakespeare, Goethe, Schiller, is in 
this respect worse on the stage than in a novel or 
romance, and all the worse the more intimately their 
lives are known. 

Of course, opinions as - to what may be repre- 
sented on the stage, and what is effective, are not 
the same in all ages. National custom as well as 
the arrangement of the theatre direct the poet. We 
have no longer the susceptibility of the Greeks to 
epic narratives which are brought upon the scene 
by a messenger ; we have greater pleasure in what 
can be acted, and risk upon our stage the imitation 
of actions which would have appeared entirely 
impossible on the Athenian stage, in spite of its 
machines, its devices for flying and its perspective 


painting, — popular tumults, collision of armies, and 
the like. And as a rule the later poet will be 
inclined to do too much rather than too little in this 

It may happen to him rather than to the Greek, 
therefore, that through full elaboration of the action, 
the inner perturbation of the chief figures may be 
disproportionately restricted, and that an important 
transition, a portentous series of moods, remains 
unexpressed. A well known example of such a 
defect is in Prince of Homburg, the very piece in 
which the poet has superbly achieved one of the 
most difficult scenic tasks, the disposition of an 
army for battle and the battle itself. The prince 
has taken his imprisonment light-heartedly ; when 
his friend, HohenzoUern, brings him the news that 
his death-warrant is awaiting the signature, his mood 
naturally becomes serious, and he determines to 
entreat the intercession of the. electoral princess. 
And in the next scene, the youn,g hero throws him- 
self powerless, and without sel^^^ontrol, at the feet 
of his protectress, because, as -fie relates, he has 
seen on his way to her, men digging his grave 
by torchlight ; he begs for his life, though he may 
be shamefully degraded. This sudden plunge to a 
cowardly fear of death, does painful violence to the 
character of a general. It is certainly not untrue in 
itself, even if we unwillingly tolerate lack of self- 
control in a general under such circumstances. And 
the drama demanded the severest humiliation of the 
hero; just this lack of courage is the turning point 


of the piece ; in his confusion he must plunge down 
to this, in order to redeem himself worthily in the 
second part of the action. It was therefore a chief 
task to present the abasement of a youthful heroic 
nature even to the fear of death, and indeed, in such a 
manner that the sympathy of the hearer should not 
be dissipated through contempt. That could happen 
only by an accurate exhibition of the inner perturba- 
tions, even to the bursting forth of the death 
anguish, which terminated in the prostration at the 
princess's feet — a difficult task for even powerful 
poetic genius, but one which must be performed. 
And here a rule may be mentioned, which has force 
for the poet as well as for the actor : it is pre- 
posterous to hasten over parts of the action which 
for any reason are necessary to the play, but have 
not the merit of pleasing motives ; on the con- 
trary, upon such passages, the highest technical 
art must be expended, in order to give poetic beauty 
to what is in itself unsuitable. Before just this 
kind of tasks, the artist must achieve the proud feel- 
ing that for him there are no unconquerable 

Another case in which the forcing forward of the 
chief effect has been neglected, is the third act of 
Antony and Cleopatra. A defect in Shakespeare 
does not, indeed, originate in want of insight, nor 
in haste. The striking thing is that the piece lacks 
climax. Antony has withdrawn from Cleopatra, has 
been reconciled with Octavianus, and has re-estab- 
lished his authority. But the spectator has long 


had a presentiment that he will return to Cleopatra. 

> . The inner necessity of this relapse is amply motived 
from the first act. Notwithstanding this, one demands 

A rightly to see this momentous relapse, with its vio- 
lent passions and mental disturbances ; it is the 
point on which all that has gone before is suspended, 
and which must account for all that follows, the 
degradation of Antony, even to his cowardly flight, 
and his death. And yet, it is presented in only brief 
sections ; the culmination of the action is divided 
up into little scenes, and the joining of these into 
one well-executed scene was the more desirable, 
because the important occurrence in the last half of 
the play, that flight of Antony from the naval bat- 
tle, cannot be represented on the stage, but can be 
made intelligible only through the short account of 
the subordinate commander and the thrilling strug- 
gle of the broken-down hero which follows/ 

But the poet has not the task, let it be under- 
stood, of representing through what is done on the 
stage every individual impulse which is necessary 
to the inner connection of the action as actually 
occurring. Such a representation of accessories 
would rather conceal the essentials than make them 
impressive, by taking time from the more important ; 
it would also divide up the action into too many 
parts and thereby injure the effects. Upon our 
stage, also, many heroic accounts of events are nec- 
essary in vivid representation. Since they always 
produce resting places in the action, however excit- 
edly the declaimer may speak, the law applies to 


them, that they must come in as relief from a strongly 
worked-up suspense. The spectator must be pre- 
viously aroused by the excited emotion of the per- 
sons concerned. The length of the narration is to 
be carefully calculated ; a line too much, the least 
unnecessary elaboration, may cause weariness. If 
the narrative contains individual parts of some 
extent, it must be divided and interspersed with 
short speeches of other characters, which indicate 
the narrator's mood; and the parts must be carefully 
arranged in the order of climax, both as to mean- 
ing and style. A celebrated example of excellent 
arrangement is the Swedish captain's story in Wal- 
Icfistein. An elaborate narrative must not occur 
when the action is moving forward with energy and 

One variety of messenger scene is the portrayal 
of an occurrence thought of as behind the scenes, 
when the persons on the stage are represented as 
observers; also the presentation of an occurrence 
from the impressions which it has made on the char- 
acters. This kind of recital allows more easily of 
dramatic excitement ; it may be almost a mere, 
quiet narrative ; it may possibly occasion or increase 
passionate excitement on the stage. 

The grounds upon which the poet has some- 
thing happening behind the scenes, are of various 
kinds. First of all, occasion is given by unavoid- 
able incidents which, because of their nature, cannot 
be represented on the stage at all, or only through 
elaborate machinery — a conflagration, a naval bat- 


tie, a popular tumult, battles of cavalry and chariot- 
eers — everything in which the mighty forces of 
nature or great multitudes of men are active in 
widespread commotion. The effect of such reflected 
impressions may be greatly enhanced by little scenic 
indications : calls from without, signals, lurid lights, 
thunder and lightning, the roar of cannon, and sim- 
ilar devices which excite the fancy, and the appro- 
priateness of wWch is easily recognized by the 
hearer. These indications and shrewd hints of 
something in the distance, will be most successful 
when they are used to show the doings of men ; not 
so favorable are the representation of the unusual 
operations of nature, descriptions of landscape, all 
spectacles to which the spectator is not accustomed 
to give himself over before the stage. In such a 
case the designed effect may entirely fail, because 
the audience is accustomed to strive against attempts 
to produce strange illusions. 

This representation of mirrored impressions, the 
laying a part of the action behind the scene, has 
peculiar significance for the drama in moments when 
what is frightful, terrifying, or horrible is to be 
exhibited. If it is desired by the present-day poet 
that he should follow the example of the Greeks, 
and discreetly lay the decisive moment of a hideous 
deed as much as possible behind the scenes, and 
bring it to light only through the impressions which 
it makes on the minds of those concerned, then an 
objection must be made against this restriction in 
favor of the newer art; for an imposing deed is 


sometimes of the greatest effect on our stage, and 
is indispensable to the action. First, if the dra- 
matically presentable individual parts of the deed 
give significance to what follows ; next, if we recog- 
nize in such a deed the sudden culmination of an 
inner process just perfected ; third, if only through 
the contemplation of the action itself the spectators 
may be convinced how the affair really happened, 
- — nowhere need we fear the effects on the stage, of 
death, murder, violent collision of figures, though 
in themselves not the highest effects of the drama. 
While the Greek stage was developed out of a lyric 
representation of passionate emotions, the German 
has arisen from the epic delineation of events. Both 
have preserved some traditions of their oldest con- 
ditions ; the Greek remained just as inclined to keep 
in the background the moment of the deed, as the 
Germans rejoiced to picture fighting and rapine. 

But if the Greeks avoided violent physical 
efforts, blows, attacks, wrestlings, overthrows, per- 
haps not the foresight of the poet, but the need of 
the actors was the ultimate reason. The Greek 
theatre costume was very inconvenient for violent 
movements of the body ; the falling of a dying per- 
son in the cothurnus must be gradual and very 
carefully managed if it would not be ridiculous. 
And the mask took away any possibility of repre- 
senting the expression of the countenance, indispen- 
sable in the moments of highest suspense, .^schy- 
lus appears to have undertaken something also in 
this direction ; and the shrewd Sophocles went just 


as far as he dared. He ventured to have even 
Antigone dragged by an armed force from the grove 
of Colonos, but he did not venture, in Electra, to 
have ^gisthos killed on the stage ; Orestes and 
Pylades must pursue him with drawn swords behind 
the scenes. Perhaps Sophocles perceived, as well 
as we, that in such a place this was a disadvantage, 
a restriction which was laid upon him by the leather 
and padding of his actors, and, too, by the religious 
horror which the Greeks felt for the moment of 
death. Then this is one of the places in the drama 
where the spectator must see that the action com- 
pletes itself. Even if pursued by two men, ^gis- 
thos could either have defended himself against 
them or have escaped them. 

Through the greater ease and energy of our imi- 
tation, we are freed from such considerations; and in 
our pieces, numerous effects, great and small, rest on 
/ y the supreme moment of action. The scene in which 
Coriolanus embraces Aufidius before the household 
altar of the Volscians, receives its full significance 
only through the battle scene in the first act, in 
which the embittered antagonists are seen to punish 
each other. The contest is necessary between Prince 
Henry and Percy. And again in Love and bitrigue, 
how indispensable, according to the premises, is the 
death of the two lovers on the stage. In Romeo 
arid Juliet, how indispensable the death of Tybalt, of 
Paris, and of the loving pair, before the eyes of the 
spectators. Could we believe it, were Emilia Galotti 
stabbed by her father behind the scenes? And 



svould it be possible to dispense with the great scene 
in which Caesar was murdered? 

On the other hand, again, there is an entire series 
of great effects, when the deed itself does not 
busy the eye, but is so concealed that the attend- 
ing circumstances stimulate the imagination, and 
cause the terrible to be felt through those impres- 
sions which fall into the soul of the hero. Wherever 
there is room to make impressive the moments 
])reparatory to a deed ; wherever the deed does not 
enter into the sudden excitement of the hero ; 
finally, wherever it is more useful to excite horror, 
and hold in suspense, than sorrowfully to relax 
excited suspense, — the poet will do well to have 
the deed itself performed behind the scenes. We 
are indebted to such a concealment for many of the 
most powerful effects which have been produced at 
all. When in the Agajnemnoii of ^schylus, the cap- 
tive Cassandra announces the individual circum- 
stances of the murder which occurs in the house ; 
when Electra, as the death shrieks of Clytemnestra 
press upon the stage, cries to her brother behind the 
scene, "Strike once more !" — the fearful power of 
these effects has never been surpassed. Not less 
magnificent is the murdering of King Duncan in 
Macbeth — the delineating of the murderer's frame of 
mind before and after the deed. 

For the German stage, the suspense, the unde- 
fined horror, the unearthly, the exciting, produced 
by skilful treatment, through this concealing of 
momentous deeds, are especially to be esteemed in 


the part of the action tending toward climax. In 
the more rapid course and the more violent excite- 
ment of the second part, they will not be so easily 
made use of. At the last exit of the hero, they can 
be used only in cases where the moment of death 
itself is not capable of presentation on the stage, — 
execution on the scaffold, military execution, and 
where the impossibility of any other solution is a 
matter of course, on account of the undoubtedly 
greater strength of the death-dealing antagonist. 
An interesting example of this is the last act of 
Wallenstein. The gloomy figure of Buttler, the 
soliciting of the murderers, the drawing together of 
the net about the unsuspecting one, — all this is 
impressed upon the soul of the spectator, in a long 
and powerfully exciting climax ; after such a prepar- 
ation, the accomplishment of the murder itself would 
not add intensity ; one sees the murderer press into 
the sleeping room ; the creaking of the last door, the 
clanking of arms, the succeeding sudden silence, 
hold the imagination in the same unearthly suspense 
which colors the whole act; and the slow awakening 
of the fancy, the anxious expectation, and the last 
concealment of the deed itself, are exceedingly well 
adapted to what is visionary and mysterious in the 
inspired hero, as Schiller has conceived him. 

The poet has not only to exhibit, but as well to 
keep silence. First of all, there are certain illogical 
ingredients of the material, which the greatest art 
is not able always to manage, — this will be further 
treated in the discussion of dramatic material. 


Then there is the repulsive, the disgusting, the 
hideous, all that shocks dramatic taste, which 
depends on the crudeness of otherwise serviceable 
material ; what, in this respect may be repugnant 
to art, the artist must himself feel ; it cannot be 
taught him. 

But further, the poet must continually heighten 
his effects from the beginning to the end of his 
play. The listener is not the same in every part of 
the performance. At the beginning of the piece, 
he acquiesces with readiness, as a rule, in what is 
offered, and with slight demands ; and as soon as 
the poet has shown his power by some respectable 
effect, and has shown his manly judgment, through 
his language, and a firm kind of characterization, the 
hearer is inclined to yield himself confidently to the 
poet's leading. This frame of mind lasts till toward 
the climax of the piece. But in the further course, 
the listener becomes more exacting; his capability 
for receiving what is new becomes less ; the effects 
enjoyed have been exciting more powerfully, have 
in many respects afforded satisfaction ; with increas- 
ing suspense, comes impatience ; with the greater 
number of impressions received, weariness comes 
more easily. With all this in view, the poet must 
carefully arrange every part of his action. Indeed, 
so far as the import of the play is concerned, he 
need not, with a skilful arrangement of tolerable 
material, be anxious about the listener's increasing 
interest. But he must see to it, that the perform- 
ance becomes gradually greater and more impres- 


sive. During the first acts, in general, a light and 
brief treatment may be made possible ; and here 
sometimes the heavy exaction is laid on the poet, 

i perhaps even to moderate a great effect ; but the 
last acts from the climax on, require the summon- 

' ing of all his resources. It is not a matter of 
indifference, where a scene is placed, whether a 
messenger recites his narrative in the first or in the 
fourth act, whether an effect closes the second or 
the fourth act. It was wise foresight that made the 
conspiracy scene in Julius Ccesar so brief, in order 
not to prejudice the climax of the piece, and the 
great tent scene. 

Another means of heightening effects lies in the 
multiplicity of moods that may be aroused, and of 
characters which may bear forward the action. 
Every piece, as has been said, has a ground mood, 
which may be compared to a musical chord or a 
color. From this controlling color, there is neces- 
sary a wealth of shadings, as well as of contrasts. 
In many cases the poet does not find it essential to 
make this necessity apparent by cool investigation ; 

^ for it is an unwritten law of all artistic creation, 
that anything discovered suggests its opposite, — the 
chief character, his counterpart, one scene effect, 
that which contrasts with it. Among the Germans, 
particularly, there is need that they fondly and care- 
fully infuse into everything which they create, a cer- 
tain totality of their feeling. Yet, during the work, 
the critical examination of the figures, which by 
natural necessity have challenged one another, will 


supply many important gaps. For in our plays, 
rich in figures, it is easily possible, by means of a 
subordinate figure, to give a coloring which materi- 
ally aids the whole. Even Sophocles is to be 
admired for the certainty and delicacy with which, 
in every tragedy, he counterbalances the one-sided- 
ness of some of his characters, by means of the sug- 
gested opposites. In Euripides, again, this feeling 
for harmony is very weak. All great poets of the 
Germanic race, from Shakespeare to Schiller, con- 
sidered all together, create, in this direction, with 
admirable firmness ; and in their works we seldom 
find a character which is not demanded by a coun- 
terpart, but is introduced through cool deliberation, 
like Parricida in William Tell. It is a peculiarity of 
Kleist that his supplementary characters come to 
him indistinctly ; here and there arbitrariness or 
license violates, in the ground lines of his figures. 

From this internal throng of scenic contrasts in 
the action, there has originated what, to the Ger- 
mans, is the favorite scene of tragedy — the lumin- 
ous and fervid part which, as a rule, embraces the 
touching moments, in contrast with the thrilling 
moments of the chief action. These scenic con- 
trasts, however, are produced not only through a 
variation of meaning, but also through a change of 
amplified and concise scenes, of scenes of two, and 
of many persons. Among the Greeks, scenes moved 
in a much narrower circle, both as to matter and 
form. The variation is made in this way : the scenes 
have a peculiar, regular, recurring construction, each 


according to its contents ; dialogues and messenger 
scenes are interrupted by pathos scenes ; for each of 
these kinds there arose, in essentials, an established 

Not only sharp contrast, but the repetition of the 
same scenic motive, may produce a heightened 
effect, as well through parallelism as through fine 
contrarieties in things otherwise similar. In this 
case, the poet must give diligent care, that he lay 
peculiar charm in the returning motive, and that 
before the recurrence, he arouse suspense and enjoy- 
ment in the motive. And in this he will not be 
allowed to neglect the law, that on the stage, in the 
last part of the action, even very fine work will not 
easily suffice to produce heightened effects by 
means already used, provided the same receive a 
broader elaboration. There is special danger if the 
performer wants the peculiar art of setting in strong 
contrast the repeated motive, and one that has pre- 
ceded it. Shakespeare is fond of repeating a motive 
to heighten effects. A good example is the heavy 
sleepiness of Lucius in Julius CcEsar, which in the 
oath scene shows the contrast in the temper of the 
master and the servant, and in the tent scene is 
repeated almost word for word. The second sound- 
ing of the chord has to introduce the ghost here, 
and its soft minor tone reminds the hearer very 
pleasingly of that unfortunate night and Brutus's 
guilt. Similarly, in Romeo and Juliet, the repetition 
of the deed with fatal result, works as well through 
consonance as through contrasted treatment. Fur- 


ther, in Othello, the splendid recurring variations of 
the same theme in the little scenes between lago 
and Roderigo. But success with these effects is 
not always accorded to even great poets. The repe- 
tition of the weird-sister motive, in the second half 
of Macbeth, is no strengthening of the effect. The 
ghostly resists, indeed, a more ample elaboration in 
the second place. A very remarkable example of 
such a repetition is the repeated wooing of Richard 
III., the scene at the bier, and the interview with 
Elizabeth Rivers.^ That the repetition stands here 
as a significant characterizing of Richard, and that 
a strong effect is intended, is perfectly clear from 
the great art and full amplification of both scenes. 
The second scene, also, is treated with greater fond- 
ness ; the poet has made use of a technique, new to 
to him, but very fine ; he has treated it according 
to antique models, giving to speech and response 
the same number of lines. And our criticism is 
accustomed to account for a special beauty of the 
great drama from this scene. It is certainly a dis- 
advantage on the stage. The monstrous action 
presses already toward the end, with a power which 
takes from the spectator the capability of enjoying 
the extended and artistic battle of words in this 
interview. A similar disadvantage for our specta- 
tors, is the thrice-repeated casket scene in the 
Merchant of Venice. The dramatic movement of 
the first two scenes is inconsiderable, and the ele- 
gance in the speeches of those choosing has not 
sufficient charm, Shakespeare might gladly allow 


himself such rhetorical niceties, because his more 
constant audience found peculiar pleasure in poli^, 
cultured discourse. 



It is well known how busily the German poets 
since Lessing's time, have been occupied in explor- 
ing that mysterious property of the drama which is 
called the tragic. It should be the quality which 
the poet's moral theory of life deposits in the piece ; 
and the poet should be, through moral influences, a 
fashioner of his time. The tragic should be an 
ethical force with which the poet has to fill his 
action and his characters ; and in this case, there have 
been only diverse opinions as to the essential nature 
of dramatic ethical force. The expressions, tragic 
guilt, inner purification, poetic justice, have become 
convenient watchwords of criticism, ponveying, how- 
ever, a different meaning to different persons. But 
in this all agree, that the tragic effect of the drama 
depends on the manner in which the poet conducts 
his characters through the action, portions their fate 
to them, and guides and terminates the struggle of 
their one-sided desire against opposing forces. 

Since the poet with freedom joins the parts of 
his action so as to produce unity, and since he pro- 
duces this unity by setting together the individual 
elements of the represented events in rational, inter- 
nal consistency, it is, of course, clear that the poet's 
representations of human freedom and dependence, 


his comprehension of the general consistency of all 
things, his view of Providence and destiny, must be 
expressed in a poetic invention, which derives from 
the inner nature of some important personage stis- 
taining great relations, his deeds and his sorrows. It 
is further plain that it devolves on the poet to con- 
duct this struggle to such a close as shall not shock 
the humanity and the reason of the hearer, but 
shall satisfy it ; and that for the good effect of his 
drama, it is not at all a matter of indifference whether 
in deducing guilt from the soul of the hero, and in 
deriving retribution from the compelling force of 
the action, he shows himself a man of good judg- 
ment and just feeling. But it is quite evident that 
the feeling and judgment of poets have been quite 
unlike in different centuries, and in individual poets, 
cannot be graduated in the same manner. Mani- 
festly he who has developed in his own life a high 
degree of culture, a comprehensive knowledge of 
men, and a manly character, will, according to the 
view of his contemporaries, best direct the destiny 
of his hero ; for what shines forth from the drama 
is only the reflection of the poet's own conception 
of the great world-relations. It cannot be taught ; 
it cannot be inserted into a single drama like a role 
or a scene. 

Therefore, in answer to the question, how the 
poet must compose his action so that it may be 
tragic in this sense, the advice, meant in all serious- 
ness, is given that he need trouble himself very little 
about it. He must develop in himself a capable 


and worthy manhood, then go with glad heart to a 
subject which offers strong characters in great con- 
flict, and leave to others the high-sounding words, 
guilt and purification, refining and elevating. Unset- 
tied must is sometimes put into bottles worthy of 
the purest wine. What is, in truth, dramatic will 
have an earnest tragic effect in a strongly moving 
action if it was a ma7i who wrote it ; if not, then 
assuredly not. 

The poet's own character determines the highest 
effects in an elevated drama more than in any other 
species of art. But the error of former art theories 
has been that they have sought to explain from the 
morale or ethics of the drama the combined effect 
in which sonorousness of words, gesture, costume, 
and not much else, are concerned. 

The word, tragic, is used by the poet in two 
different meanings ; it denotes, first, the peculiar 
general effect which a successful drama of elevated 
character produces upon the soul of the spectator ; 
and, second, a definite kind of dramatic causes and 
effects which in certain parts of the drama are 
either useful or indispensable. The first is the 
physiological signification of the expression ; the 
second, a technical denotation. 

To the Greeks, a certain peculiarity in the aggre- 
gate effect of the drama was well known. Aristotle 
has sharply observed the special influence of the 
dramatic effects on the life of the spectators, and 
has understood them to be a characteristic property 
of the drama ; so that he has included them in his 


celebrated definition of tragedy. This explanation, 
** Tragedy is artistic remodeling of a worthy, undi- 
vided, complete event, which has magnitude," and 
so forth, closes with the words, ** and effects through 
pity and fear the purification of such passions." In 
another place, he explains in detail (Rhetoric, II. 8) 
what pity is, and how it may be awakened. Awak- 
ening pity is to him exhibiting the whole realm of 
human sorrows, circumstances, and actions, the obser-' 
vation of which produces what we call emotion and 
strong agitation. The word purification (katharsis)^ 
however, which as an expression of the old healing 
art, denoted the removal of diseased matter, and, as 
an expression of divine worship, denoted the purging 
of man by atonement from what polluted, is evi-i 
dently an art term adopted by him for the proper' 
effect of tragedy on the hearer. These peculiar 
effects which the critical observer perceived upon 
his contemporaries, are not entirely the same which 
the representation of a great dramatic masterpiece 
produces upon our audience, but they are closely 
related ; and it is worth while to notice the differ- 

Any one who has ever observed the influence of a 
tragedy upon himself, must have noticed with aston- 
ishment how the emotion and perturbation caused 
by the excitement of the characters, joined with the 
mighty suspense which the continuity of the action 
produces, take hold upon his nerves. Far more 
easily than in real life the tears flow, the lips twitch ; 
this pain, however, is at the same time accompanied 


with intense enjoyment, while the hearer experi- 
ences immediately after the hero, the same thoughts, 
sorrows, calamities, with great vividness, as if they 
were his own. He has in the midst of the most 
violent excitement, the consciousness of unrestricted 
liberty, which at the same time raises him far above 
the incidents through which his capacity to receive 
impressions seems to be levied upon. After the 
fall of the curtain, in spite of the intense strain which 
he has been under for hours, he will be aware of a 
rebound of vital force; his eye brightens, his step is 
elastic, every movement firm and free. The dread 
and commotion are followed by a feeling of security ; 
in his mental processes of the next hour, there is a 
greater elevation ; in his collocation of words, 
emphatic force ; the aggregate production, now his 
own, has raised him to a high pitch. The radiance 
of broader views and more powerful feeling which 
has come into his soul, lies like a transfiguration 
upon his being. This remarkable affection of body 
and soul, this elevation above the moods of the day, 
this feeling of unrestrained comfort after great agi- 
tation, is exactly what, in the modern drama, corre- 
sponds to Aristotle's " purification." There is no 
doubt that such a consequence of scenic exhibitions 
among the finely cultured Greeks, after a ten hours' 
suspense, through the most powerful effects, came 
out all the more heightened and more striking. 

The elevating influence of the beautiful, upon 
the soul, is no entirely unusual art; but the peculiar 
effect which is produced by a union of pain, horror. 


and pleasure, with a great, sustained effort of the 
fancy and the judgment, and through the perfect 
satisfying of our demands for a rational consistency 
in all things, — this is the prerogative of the art of 
dramatic poetry alone. The penetrating force of 
this dramatic effect is, with the majority of people, 
greater than the force of effects produced by any 
other form of art. Only music is able to make its 
influence more powerfully felt upon the nerves ; but 
the thrill which the musical tone evokes, falls rather 
within the sphere of immediate emotions, which are 
not transfigured into thought ; they are more rapt- 
urous, less inspired. 

Naturally the effects of the drama are no longer 
the same with us as they were in Aristotle's time. 
He, himself, makes that clear to us. He who knew 
so well that the action is the chief thing in the 
drama, and that Euripides composed his actions 
badly, yet called hint the most tragic of the poets, 
that is, one who knew how to produce most power- 
fully the effects peculiar to a play. Upon us, how- 
ever, scarcely a play of Euripides produces any 
general effect, however powerfully the stormy com- 
motions of the hero's soul, in single ones of his bet- 
ter plays, thrill us. Whence comes this diversity of 
conception? Euripides was a master in represent- 
ing excited passion, with too little regard for sharply 
defined personages and rational consistency of the 
action. The Greek drama arose from a union of 
music and lyric poetry ; from Aristotle's time for- 
ward, it preserved something of its first youth. The 



musical element remained, not in the choruses, but 
the rhythmical language of the hero easily ros^ to 
climaxes in song; and the climaxes were frequently 
characterized by fully elaborated pathos scenes. 
The aggregate effect of the old tragedy stood 
between that of our opera and our drama, perhaps 
•still nearer the opera; it retained something of the 
powerful inflammatory influence of music- 

On the other hand, there was another effect of 
the ancient' tragedy, only imperfectly- developed, 
which is indispensable to our tragedy. The dra- 
matic ideas and actions of the Greeks lacked a 
rational conformity to the laws of nature, that is, 
such a connecting of events as would be perfectly 
accounted for by the disposition and one-sidedness 
of the characters. We have become free men, we 
I recognize no fate on the stage but such as proceeds 
! from the nature of the hero himself. The modern 
poet has to prepare for the hearer the proud joy, 
»that the world into which he introduces him corre- 
sponds throughout to the ideal demands which the 
heart and judgment of the hearer set up in comparison 
with the events of reality. Human reason appears 
in the new drama, as agreeing with and identical 
with divine ; it remodels all that is incomprehensible 
in the order of nature, according to the need of 
our spirit and heart. This peculiarity of the action 
specially strengthens for the spectator of the best 
modern plays, beautiful transparence and joyous 
elevation ; it helps to make himself for hours 
stronger, nobler, freer. Here is the point in which 


the character of the modern poet, his frank manli- 
ness, exercises greater influence upon the aggregate 
effect than in ancient times. 

The Attic poet also sought this unity of the 
divine and the rational ; but it was very difficult for 
him to find it. This boldly tragical, of course, shines 
forth in single dramas of the ancient world. And 
that can be explained ; for the vital laws of poetical 
creation control the poet long before criticism has 
found rules for it ; and in his best hours, the poet 
may receive an inward freedom and expansion 
which raise him far above the restrictions of his 
time. Sophocles directed the character and fate of 
his heroes sometimes, almost in the Germanic 
fashion. In general, however, the Greeks did not 
free themselves from a servitude which seems to us, 
in the highest art effects, a serious defect. The epic 
source of their subjects was thoroughly unfavorable 
for the free direction of their heroes' destiny. An 
incomprehensible fate reached from without into 
their action ; prophecies and oracular utterances 
influence the conclusion ; accidental misfortunes 
strike the heroes ; misdeeds of parents control the 
destiny of later generations ; personifications of 
deity enter the action as friends and as enemies ; 
between what excites their rage and the punish- 
ments which they decree, there is, according to 
human judgment, no consistency, much less a rational 
relation. The partiality and arbitrariness with which 
they rule, is frightful and terrifying; and when they 
occasionally grant a mild reconciliation, they remain 


like something foreign, not belonging here. In 
contrast to such cold excess of power, meek-spirited 
modesty of man is the highest wisdom. Whoever 
means to stand firmly by himself in his own might, 
falls first before a mysterious power which annihi- 
lates the guilty as well as the innocent. With this 
conception, which in its ultimate foundation was 
gloomy, sad, devouring, there remained to the Greek 
poet only the means of putting even into the char- 
acters of his fettered heroes, something that to a 
certain degree would account for the horrors which 
they must endure. The great art of Sophocles is 
shown, among other things, in the way he gives 
coloring to his personages. But this wise disposi- 
tion of characters does not always extend far enough 
to establish the course of their destiny ; it remains 
not seldom an inadequate motive. The greatness 
which the ancients produced, lay first of all in the 
force of passions, then in the fierceness of the strug- 
gles through which their heroes were overthrown, 
finally in the intensity, unfeelingness, and inexora- 
bleness, with which they made their characters do 
and suffer. 

» The Greeks felt very well that it was not advis- 
able to dismiss the spectator immediately after such 
effects of the efforts of the beautiful art. They 
therefore closed the exhibition of the day with a 
parody, in which they treated the serious heroes of 
the tragedy with insolent jest, and whimsically imi- 
tated their struggles. The burlesque was the 


external means of affording the recreation which 
lies for us in the tragedy itself. 

From these considerations, the last sentence of 
Aristotle's definition, not indeed without limitation, 
avails for our drama. For him as well as for us, the 
chief effect of the drama is the disburdening of the? 
hearer from the sad and confining moods of the day, 
which come to us through wretchedness and what- 
ever causes apprehension in the world. But when 
in another place, he knows how to account for this, 
on the ground that man needs to see himself touched 
and shaken, and that the powerful pacifying and 
satisfying of this desire gives him inward freedom, 
this explanation is, indeed, not unintelligible to us; 
but it accepts as the ultimate inner reason for this 
need pathological circumstances, where we recognize 
a joyous emotional activity of the hearer. 

The ultimate ground of every great effect of the 
drama lies not in the necessity of the spectator 
passively to receive impressions, but in his never- 
ceasing and irresistible desire to create and to 
fashion. The dramatist compels the listener to 
repeat his creations. The whole world of charac- 
ters, of sorrow, and of destiny, the hearer must make 
alive in himself. While he is receiving with a high 
degree of suspense, he is in most powerful, most 
rapid creative activity. An ardor and beatifying 
cheerfulness like that which the poet himself has 
felt, fills the hearer who repeats the poet's efforts ; 
therefore the pain with the feeling of pleasure ; 
therefore the exaltation which outlasts the con- 


elusion of the piece. And this stimulation of the 
creative imagination is, in the new drama, pene- 
trated with still a milder light; for closely connected 
with it, is an exalting sense of eternal reason in the 
severest fates and sorrows of man. The spectator 
feels and recognizes that the divinity which guides 
his life, even where it shatters the individual human 
being, acts in a benevolent fellowship with the 
human race ; and he feels himself creatively exalted, 
as united with and in accord with the great world- 
guiding power. 

So the aggregate effect of the drama, the tragic, 
is with us related to that of the Greek, but still no 
longer the same. The Greeks listened in the green 
youth of the human race, for the tones of the pro- 
scenium, filled with the sacred ecstacy of Dionysus ; 
the German looks into the world of illusion, not less 
affected, but as a lord of the earth. The human race 
has since then passed through a long history ; we 
have all been educated through historical science. 

But more than the general effect of the drama is 
denoted by the word tragic. The poet of the 
present time, and sometimes also the public, use the 
word in a narrower sense. We understand by it, 
also, a peculiar kind of dramatic effects. 

W hen at a certain point in the action, there 
enters suddenly, unexpectedly, in contrast with what 
has pr eceded, somethi ng sad, sombre, frightful, tha t 
we yet immediately feel has developed from the 
original course of events, and is perfectly intelli- 
gible from the presuppositions of the play, this new 


elementi s a tragic force or motive . This tragic force 
must possess the three following qualities : ( i ) it 
must be imj3or tant and of serious consequence to t he I 
hero; (2) it must occur unexpecte dly ; (3) it must, a 
to the mind of the spectator, stand in a visible chain 
of accessory repres entation s, in rational connection / 
with the earlier partsof _the action^ When the con- 
spirators have killed Caesar and, as they think, have 
bound Antony to themselves, Antony, by his speech 
stirs up against the murderers themselves the same 
Romans for whose freedom Brutus had committed 
the murder. When Romeo has married Juliet, he is 
placed under the necessity of killing her cousin, 
Tybalt, in the duel, and is banished. WhenMary 
Stuart has approached Elizabeth so near that a 
reconciliation of the two queen s is possible, a 
quarrel flames up between them, which becomes K 
fata TTo'lVlary . Here the speech of Antony, the 
death of Tybalt, the quarrel of the queens, are 
tragic forces ; their effect rests upon this, that the 
spectator comprehends the ominous occurrences as K 
surprising, and yet inseparably connected with what' 
has preceded. The hearer keenly feels the speech 
of Antony to be a result of the wrong which the 
conspirators have done Caesar ; through the relation 
of Antony to Caesar, and his behavior in the pre- 
vious dialogue scene with the conspirators, the 
speech is conceived as the necessary consequence of 
the sparing of Antony, and the senseless and over- 
hasty confidence which the murderers place in him. 
That Romeo must kill Tybalt, will be immediately 


understood as an unavoidable consequence of the 
mortal family quarrel and the duel with Mercutio ;^ 
the quarrel of the two queens, the hearer at once 
understands to be the natural consequence of their 
pride, hatred, and former jealousy. 

In the same technical signification, theword 
tragic is also~"so metirnesused tor events in real life. 
The fact, for example, that Luther, that mighty 
champion of the freedom of conscience, became in 
the last half of his life an intolerant oppressor of 
conscience, contains, thus stated, nothing tragic. 
Overweening desire for rule may have developed in 
Luther ; he may have become senile. But from the 
moment when it becomes clear to us, through a suc- 
cession of accessory ideas, that this same intolerance 
was the necessary consequence of that very honest, 
disinterested struggle for truth, which accomplished 
the Reformation ; that this same pious fidelity with 
which Luther upheld his conception of the Bible 
against the Roman Church, brought him to defend 
this conception against an adverse decision ; that he 
would not despair when in his position outside of 
the church, but remained there, holding obstinately 
to the letter of his writings ; from the moment, 
also, when we conceive of the inner connection of 
his intolerance with all that is good and great in 
his nature, — this darkening of his later life produces 
the effect of the tragic. Just so with Cromwell. 
That the Protector ruled as a tyrant, produces, in 
itself, nothing tragic. But that he must do it 
against his will, because the partisan relations 


through which he had arisen, and his participation 
in the execution of the king, had stirred the hearts 
of the conservative against him ; that the great 
hero from the pressure which his earlier life had 
laid upon him, could not wrest himself free from 
his office, — this makes the shadow which fell upon 
his life through his unlawful reign, tragic for us. 
That Conradin, child of the Hohenstaufens, gath- 
ered a horde, and was slain in Italy by his adver- 
sary, — this is not in itself dramatic, and in no sense 
of the word tragic. A weak youth, with slender 
support,- — it was in order that he should succumb. 
But when it is impressed upon our souls, that the 
youth only followed the old line of march of his 
ancestors toward Italy, and that in this line of 
march, almost all the great princes of .his house 
had fallen, and that this march of an imperial race 
was not accidental, but rested on ancient, historical 
union of Germany with Italy, — then the death of 
Conradin appears to us specially tragic, not for 
himself, but as the final extinction of the greatest 
race of rulers of that time. 

With peculiar emphasis, it must again be asserted 

that the tragic force must be understood in its 

rational causative connection with the fundamental 

cdiTditions of the action. For our drama, su( 
events as enter without Being understood, incidents 
the relation of which with the action is mysteriously 
concealed, influences the significance of which rests 
on sup erstitious notio ns^^ motives which are taken 
from dream-life, pro phesyings, presentiments, have 


m erely a secondarY Jmpnrtanre. If a family picture 
which falls from its nail, shall portentously indicate 
death and destruction ; if a dagger which was used 
in a crime, appears burdened with a mysterious, 
evil-bringing curse, till it brings death to the mur- 
derer, — these kinds of attempts which ground the 
tragic effect upon an inner connection which is 
incomprehensible to us, or appears unreasonable, 

( are for the free race of the present day, either weak 

or quite intolerable. What appears to us as an g£ci- 

\ / denj;, even an overwhelming one, is not appropriate 

"^ for great effects on the stage. It is now several 
centuries since the adoption of such motives and 
many others, has been tried in Germany. 

The Greeks, it may be remarked incidentally, 
were some\Yhat less fastidious in the use of these 
irrational forces for tragic effect. They could be 
contented if the inner connection of a suddenly 
entering tragic force, with what had preceded, were 
felt in an ominous shudder. When Aristotle cites 
as an effective example in this direction, that a 
statue erected to a man, in falling down, kills him 
who was guilty of the man's death, we should feel 
in every-day life such an accident is significant. 
But in art, we should not deem it worthy of success. 
Sophocles understands how, with such forces, to make 
conspicuous a natu ral and intellig ible connection 
between cause and effect so far as his fables allow 

^f the s ort. ^ For example, the manner in 
which he explains, with realistic detail, the poison- 


ous effect of the shirt of Nessos, which Deianeira 
sends to Hercules, is remarkable. 

Th e tragic force, or incident, in the drama js one 
of many effects^__It may enter only once, as usually 
^ happens; it may be used several times in the same 
piece. Romeo and Juliet has three such forces : the 
death of Tybalt after the marriage ; the betrothal of 
Juliet and Paris after the marriage night ; the death 
of Paris before the final catastrophe. The position 
which this force takes in the piece, is not always the 
same ; one point, however, is specially adapted for 
it, so that the cases in which it demands another 
place, can be considered as exceptions ; and it is 
relevant in connection with the foregoing to speak 
of this here, though the parts of the drama will be 
discussed in the following chapter. 

The point forward fr om which the deed of the . 
hero reacts upon himself, is one of the most impor- ' 
t antin the play. " T his beginning of the reaction, \ 
so metimes united in one sc ene with the cli max, has 
been noted ever since there has been a dramatic art. 
The embarrassment of the hero and the momentous 
position into which he has placed himself, must be / 
impressively represented ; at the same time, it is the 
business of this for ce to produce new suspense f or 

the second part of the piece, a^id so much the more 
as the apparent succ'ess ot tTTe hero has so far been 
more brilliant, and the more magnificently the scene 
of the climax has presented his success. Whatever 
enters into the pla y now must have all the qual itjes 1 
which have been previously explained — it must 



present sharp contrasts, it mu st not be accide ntal, it 
must be pregnant wTth consequences. Therefore it' 
musTlTave^Tmportance and a certain m3gnit_ude. 
This scene "oFthe tragic force either immediately 
follows the scene of the climax, like th e despair of 
Juliet after Romeo's departure ; or is joined by a, 
connecting scene, like the speech of Antony after 
Caesar's murder ; or it is coupled with the climax 
scene into scenic unity, as in Mary Stuart ; or it is 
entirely separated from it by the close of an act, as 
in Love and Intrigue, where Louise's writing the 
letter indicates the climax, and Ferd inand's convic- 
tion of the infi delity_ofJ}l s beloved forms the trag ic 
force. Such scenes almost always stand in the 
third act of our plays, sometimes less effective in 
the beginning of the fourth. They are not, of 
course, absolutely necessary to the tragedy ; it is 
quite possible to bring along the increasing reaction 
by several strokes in gradual reinforcement. This 
will most frequently be the case where the catas- 
trophe is effected by the mental processes of the 
hero, as in Othello. 

It is worth whU^JoiLiisJnmodern times to rec- 
o gnize h ow important this entr ance of the tragjc 
force in to the action appeared to the Greeks. It 
was under another name exactly the same effect ; 
and it was made still more significantly prominent 
by the Attic critic than is necessary for us. Even_ 
to their trap^ed ies, this fo rce was not indispe nsa ble , 
but it passed for one of the most beautiful and most,, 
ef fective inventions^ ^ Indeed, they classed this 


effect according to its producing a turn in the action 
itself or in the position of the chief characters rel- 
ative to one another ; and they had for each of 
these cases special names, apparently expressions of 
the old poetic laboratory, which an accident has 
preserved for us in Aristotle's Poetics^ 

Revolution [Penpeteia), is the name given by» 
the Greeks to that tragic force which by the sud- 
den intrusion of an event, unforeseen and over-j 
whelming but already grounded in the plan of the 
action, impels the volition of the hero, and with 
it the action itself in a direction entirely different i 
from that of the beginning. Examples of such 
revolution scenes are the change in the prospects of 
Neoptolemus in Philoctetes, the announcement of the 
messenger and the shepherd to Jocasta and the king 
in Ki?ig CEdipus, the account of Hyllos to Deia- 
neira, concerning the effect of the shirt of Nessos, 
in The Trachiiiian Womefi. Through this force spe- 
cially there was produced a powerful movement in 
the second part of the play ; and the Athenians 
distinguished ca refully between plays with revolu - 
tion and those without. Thos e with revolutio n pre- 
vaifed in general, b eing considered t he better. This 
force of the ancient action is distinguished from the 
corresponding newer only in this, that it does not 
necessarily indicate a turning toward the disastrous, 
because the tragedy of the ancients did not always 
have a sad ending, but sometimes the sudden rever- 
sion to the better. The scenes claimed scarcely 
l^sssignificance, In which the position of the per- 


sons concerned in the action was changed with 
relation to each other, by the unexpected revival of 
an old and important relation between them. These 
scenes of the anagnorisis, recognition scenes, it was 
especially, in which the agreeable relations ot th e 
heroes became apparent in magnificent achievement. 
And since the Greek stage did not know our~Tove 
s cenes, they occupied a similar posit ion, though 
good-will did not always appear in them, and some- 
times even hatred flamed up. The subjects of the 
Greeks offered ample opportunity for such scenes. 
The heroes of Gr eek story are, almost without 
exception, a wandering ra ce.^ Expedition and return, 
the findin g of friends and enemi es unexpectedly, 
are among the most common features of these leg- 
ends. Almost every collection of stories contains 
children who did not know their parents, husbands 
and wives, who after long separation came together 
again under peculiar circumstances, host and guest, 
who prudently sought to conceal their names and 
purposes. There was, therefore, in much of their 
material, scenes of meetings, finding the lost, remi- 
niscences of significant past events, some of decisive 
importance. Not only the recognizing of former 
acquaintances but the recognition of a region, of an 
affair having many relations, could becom e a motive 
for a strong movement. Such scenes afforded the 
old^me poet welcome opportunity for the repre- 
sentation of contrasts in perception and for favorite 
pathetic performances in which the excited feeling 
flowed forth in great waves. The woman who will 


kill an enemy, and just before or just after the deed 
recognizes him as her own son ; the son who in his 
mortal enemy finds again his own mother, like Ion ; 
the priestess who is about to offer up a stranger, 
and in him recognizes her brother, like Iphigenia ; 
the sister who mourns her dead brother, and in the 
bringer of the burial urn receives back again the 
living ; and Odysseus's nurse who, in a beggar, 
finds out the home-returning master by a scar on 
his foot, — these are some of the numerous exam- 
ples. Frequently such recognition scenes became 
motives for a revolution, as in the case already men- 
tioned of the account of the messenger and the 
shepherd to the royal pair of Thebes. One may 
read in Aristotle how important the circumstances 
were to the Greeks through which the recognition 
was brought about ; by the great philosopher, they 
were carefully considered and prized according to 
their intrinsic worth. And it is a source of satisfac- 
tion to observe that even to the Greek, no acci- 
dental external characteristic passed for a motive 
suitable to art, but only the internal relations of 
those recognizing each other, which voluntarily and 
characteristically for both, manifested themselves in 
the dialogue. Just a glimpse assures us how refined 
and fully developed the dramatic criticism of the 
Greeks was, and how painfully conscientious they 
were to regard in a new drama what passed for a 
beautiful effect according to their theory of art. 





In an action, through characters, by means of 
words, tones, gestures, the drama presents those 
soul-processes which man experiences, from the 
flashing up of an idea, to passionate desire and to a 
deed, as well as those inward emotions which are 
excited by his own deeds and those of others. 

The structure of the drama must show these two 
contrasted elements of the dramatic joined in a 
unity, efflux and influx of will-power, the accom- 
plishment of a deed and its reaction on the 
soul, movement and counter-movement, strife and 
counter-strife, rising and sinking, binding and 
\^ loosing. 

In every part of the drama, both tendencies of 
dramatic life appear, each incessantly challenging 
the other to its best in play and counter-play ; but 
in general, also, the action of the drama and the 
grouping of characters is, through these tendencies, 
in two parts. What the drama presents is always a 
struggle, which, with strong perturbations of sowl, 
the hero wages against opposing forces. And as 



the hero must be endowed with a strong life, with a 
certain one-sidedness, and be in embarrassment, the 
opposing power must be made visible in a human 

It is quite indifferent in favor of which of the 
contending parties the greater degree of justice lies, 
whether a character or his adversary is better- 
mannered, more favored by law, embodies more of 
the traditions of the time, possesses more of the 
ethical spirit of the poet ; in both groups, good and 
evil, power and weakness, are variously mingled. 
But both must be endowed with what is universally, 
intelligibly human. The chief hero must always 
stand in strong contrast with his opponents ; the 
advantage which he wins for himself, must be the 
greater, so much the greater the more perfectly the 
final outcome of the struggle shows him to be van- 

These two chief parts of the drama are firmly 
united by a point of the action which lies directly in 
the middle. This middle, the climax of the play, is 
the most important place of the structure ; the action 
rises to this ; the action falls away from this. It is 
now decisive for the character of the drama which 
of the two refractions of the dramatic light shall 
have a place in the first part of the play, which shall 
fall in the second part as the dominating influence ; 
whether the efflux or influx, the play or the counter- 
play, maintains the first part. Either is allowed ; 
either arrangement of the structure can cite plays of 
the highest merit in justification of itself. And 


these two ways of constructing a drama have become 
characteristic of individual poets and of the time in 
which they lived. 

By one dramatic arrangement, the chief person, 
the hero, is so introduced that his nature and his 
characteristics speak out unembarrassed, even to the 
moments when, as a consequence of external 
impulse or internal association of ideas, in him the 
beginning of a powerful feeling or volition becomes 
perceptible. The inner commotion, the passionate 
eagerness, the desire of the hero, increase ; new cir- 
cumstances, stimulating or restraining, intensify his 
embarrassment and his struggle ; the chief character 
strides victoriously forward to an unrestrained exhi- 
bition of his life, in which the full force of his feel- 
ing and his will are concentrated in a deed by which 
the spiritual tension is relaxed. From this point 
there is a turn in the action; the hero appeared up 
to this point in a desire, one-sided or full of conse- 
quence, working from within outward, changing by 
its own force the life relations in which he came 
upon the stage. From the climax on, what he has 
done reacts upon himself and gains power over him ; 
the external world, which he conquered in the rise 
of passionate conflict, now stands in the strife above 
him. This adverse influence becomes continually 
more powerful and victorious, until at last in the 
final catastrophe, it compels the hero to succumb to 
its irresistible force. The end of the piece follows 
this catastrophe immediately, the situation where the 


restoration of peace and quiet after strife becomes 

With this arrangement, first the inception and 
progress of the action are seen, then the effects of 
the reaction ; the character of the first part is deter- 
mined by the depth of the hero's exacting claims ; 
the second by the counter-claims which the violently 
disturbed surroundings put forward. This is the 
construction of Antigo?ie, of Ajax, of all of Shake- 
speare's great tragedies except Othello and King 
Lear, of The Maid of Orleafts, less surely of the 
double tragedy, Walle?istein. 

The other dramatic arrangement, on the con- 
trary, represents the hero at the beginning, in 
comparative quiet, among conditions of life which 
suggest the influence of some external forces upon 
his mind. These forces, adverse influences, work 
with increased activity so long in the hero's soul, 
that at the climax, they have brought him into 
ominous embarrassment, from which, under a stress 
of passion, desire, activity, he plunges downward to 
the catastrophe. 

This construction makes use of opposing charac- 
ters, in order to give motive to the strong excite- 
ment of the chief character ; the relation of the 
chief figures to the idea of the drama is an entirely 
different one ; they do not give direction in the 
ascending action, but are themselves directed. 
Examples of this construction are King (Edifijis, 
Othello y Lear, Emilia ' Galotti, Clavigo, Love ana 


It might appear that this second method of 
dramatic construction must be the more effective. 
Gradually, in a specially careful performance, one 
sees the conflicts through which the life of the hero 
is disturbed, give direction to his inward being. 
Just there, where the hearer demands a powerful 
intensifying of effects, the previously prepared 
domination of the chief characters enters ; suspense 
and sympathy, which are more difficult to sustain in 
the last half of the play, are firmly fixed upon the 
chief characters ; the stormy and irresistible pro- 
gress downward is particularly favorable to powerful 
and thrilling effects. And, indeed, subjects which 
contain the gradual rise and growth of a portentous 
passion which in the end leads the hero to his de- 
struction, are exceedingly favorable for such an 

But this method of constructing a play is not 
the most correct, dramatically ; and it is no acci- 
dent, that the greatest dramas of such a character, at 
the tragic close, intermingle with the emotions and 
perturbations of the hearer, an irritating feeling 
which lessens the joy and recreation. For they do 
not specially show the hero as an active, aggressive 
nature, but as a receptive, suffering person, who is 
too much compelled by the counter-play, which 
strikes him from without. The greatest exercise of 
human power, that which carries with it the heart of 
the spectator most irresistibly, is, in all times, the 
bold individuality which sets its own inner self, 
without regard to consequences, over against the 


forces which surround it. The essential nature of 
the drama is conflict and suspense ; the sooner these 
are evoked by means of the chief heroes themselves 
and given direction, the better. 

It is true, the first kind of dramatic structure 
conceals a danger, which even by genius, is not 
always successfully avoided. In this, as a rule, the 
first part of the play, which raises the hero through 
regular degrees of commotion to the climax, is 
assured its success. But the^ second half, in which 
greater effects are demanded, depends mostly 
on the counter-play ; and this counter-play must 
here be grounded in more violent movement and 
have comparatively greater authorization. This 
may distract attention rather than attract it more 
forcibly. It must be added, that after the climax of 
the action, the hero must seem weaker than the 
counteracting figures. Moreover, on this ^count, 
the interest in him may be lessened. Yet in spite 
of this difficulty, the poet need be in no doubt, to 
which kind of arrangement to give the preference. 
His task will be greater in this arrangement; great 
art is required to make the last act strong. But 
talent and good fortune must overcome the diffi- 
culties. And the most beautiful garlands which 
dramatic art has to confer, fall upon the successful 
work. Of course the poet is dependent on his sub- 
ject and material, which sometimes leaves no choice. 
Therefore, one of the first questions a poet must 
ask, when contemplating attractive material, is ''does 
it come forward in the play or in the counterplay ?" 


It is instructive in connection with this topic, 
to compare the great poets. From the few plays of 
Sophocles which we have preserved, the majority 
belong to those in which the chief actor has the 
direction, however unfavorable the sphere of epic 
material was for the unrestrained self-direction of 
the heroes. Shakespeare, however, evinces here 
the highest power and art. He is the poet of char- 
acters which reach conclusions quickly. Vital 
force and marrow, compressed energy and the 
intense virility of his heroes, impel the piece in 
rapid movement upward, from the very opening 

In sharp contrast with him, stands the tendency 
of the great German poets of the last century. 
They love a broad motiving, a careful grounding of 
the unusual. In many of their dramas, it looks as 
if their ;Ileroes would wait quietly in a self-controlled 
mood, in uncertain circumstances, if they were only 
let alone ; and since, to most of the heroic charac- 
ters of the Germans, conscious power, firm self-con- 
fidence and quick decision are wanting, so they 
stand in the action, uncertain, meditating, doubting, 
moved rather by external relations than by claims 
that have no regard to consequences. It is signifi- 
cant of the refinement of the last century, of the 
culture and spiritual life of a people to whom a joy- 
ful prosperity, a public life, and a self-government, 
were so greatly lacking. Even Schiller, who under- 
stood so well how to excite intense passion, was 
fond of giving the power of direction to the 


counter-players in the first half, and to the chief 
actors only in the second half, from the climax 
downward. In Love Mid Intrigue, therefore, Ferdi- 
nand and Louise are pushed forward by the 
intriguers ; and only from the scene between Ferdi- 
nand and the president, after the tragic force 
enters, Ferdinand assumes the direction till the end. 
Still worse is the relation of the hero, Don Carlos, 
to the action ; he is kept in leading strings, not only 
through the ascending half, but as well through the 
descending half. In Mary Stuart, the heroine has 
the controlling influence over her portentous fate, 
up to the climax, the garden scene ; so far she con- 
trols the mental attitudes of her counter-players ; 
the propelling forces are, however, as the subject 
demanded, the intriguers and Elizabeth. 

Much better known, yet of less importance for 
the construction of the drama, is the distinction of 
plays, which originates in the last turn in the fate of 
the hero, and in the meaning of the catastrophe. 
The new German stage distinguishes two kinds of 
serious plays, tragedy and spectacle play (trauer- 
spiel and schauspiel^ The rigid distinction in this 
sense is not old even with us ; it has been current in 
repertoires only since Iffland's time. And, if now, 
occasionally, on the stage, comedy, tragedy, and 
spectacle play are put in opposition as three differ- 
ent kinds of recitative representation, the spectacle 
play is no third, co-ordinate kind of dramatic crea- 
tion, according to its character, but a subordinate 
kind of serious drama. The Attic stage did not have 


the name, but it had the thing. Even in the time of 
iEschylus and Sophocles, a gloomy termination was 
by no means indispensable to the tragedy. Of 
seven of the extant tragedies of Sophocles, two, 
Ajax and Philoctetes, indeed also, in the eyes of the 
Athenians, CEdipus at Colofios had a mild close, 
which turns the fate of the hero toward the better. 
Even in Euripides, to whom the critics attribute 
a love of the sad endings, there are, out of seventeen 
extant plays, four, besides Alcestis, Hele?ia, Iphigenia 
in Tauris, Aiidromache ^ and /<?//, the endings of which 
correspond to our spectacle play ; in several others, 
the tragic ending is accidental and without motive. 
And it seems, the Athenians already had the same 
taste which we recognize in our spectators ; they 
saw most gladly such tragedies as in our sense of 
the word were spectacle plays, in which the hero 
was severely worried by fate, but rescued at length, 
safely bore off his hide and hair. 

On the modern stage, it cannot be denied, the 
justification of the spectacle play has become more 
pronounced. We have a nobler and more liberal 
comprehension of human nature. We are able to 
delineate more charmingly, more effectively, and 
more accurately inner conflicts of conscience, oppos- 
ing convictions. In a time in which men have 
debated the abolition of capital punishment, the dead 
at the end of a play may be more easily dispensed 
with. In real life, we trust to a strong human power 
that it will hold the duty of living very high, and 
expiate even serious crimes, not with death but by a 


purer life. But this changed conception of earthly 
existence does not bring an advantage to the drama 
in every respect. It is true the fatal ending is, in 
the case of modern subjects, less a necessity than in 
the dramatic treatment of epic legends, or older 
historical events ; but not that the hero's at last 
remaining alive makes a piece a spectacle play, but 
that he proceeds from the strife as conqueror, or by 
an adjustment with his opponent, goes away recon- 
ciled. If he must be the victim at last, if he must 
be crushed, then the piece retains not only the 
character but the name of tragedy. The Prince of 
Homburg is a spectacle play, Tasso is a tragedy. 

The drama of modern times has embraced in the 
circle of its subjects, a broad field which was 
unknown to the tragedy of the ancient Greeks, 
indeed, in the main, to Shakespeare's art : the mid- 
dle-class life of the present time, the conflicts of 
our society. No doubt, the strifes and sufferings of 
modern life make a tragic treatment possible ; and 
this has fallen too little to their lot ; but what is 
full of incident, what is quiet, what is full of scruple, 
connected as a rule with this species of material, 
affords artistic conception full justification ; and just 
here it brings forward such strifes as in real life we 
trust to have and want to have adjusted peaceably. 
With the broad and popular expansion which this 
treatment has won, it is proper to propose two things : 
first, that the laws for the construction of the spec- 
tacle play and the life of the characters are, in the 
main, the same as for the tragedy, and that it is 


useful for the playwright to recognize these laws as 
found in the drama of elevated character, where 
every violence done them may be dangerous to the 
success of the piece ; and second, that the spectacle 
play in which a milder adjustrnent of conflicts is 
necessary in the second part, has a double reason 
for laying motives in the first half by means of fine 
characterization, for the hero's stout-hearted and 
vigorous desire in the second half of the play. 
Otherwise, it is exposed to the danger of becoming 
a mere situation-piece, or intrigue-play ; in the first 
case, by sacrificing the strong movement of a uni- 
fied action to the more easy depiction of circum- 
stances and characteristic peculiarities ; in the sec- 
ond case, by neglecting to develop the characters, 
on account of the rapid chess-board performance of 
a restless action. The first is the tendency of the 
Germans ; the second of the Latins ; both kinds of 
preparation of a subject are unfavorable to a digni- 
fied treatment of serious conflicts ; they belong, 
according to their nature, to comedy, not to serious 



Through the two halves of the action which 
come closely together at one point, the drama pos- 
sesses — if one may symbolize its arrangement by 
lines — a pyramidal structure. It rises from the 
introduction with the entrance of the exciting forces 
to the climax, and falls from here to the catastro- 


phc. Between these three parts lie (the parts of) 
the rise and the fall. Each of these five parts may 
consist of a single scene, or a succession of con- 
nected scenes, but the climax is usually composed 
of one chief scene, ^^c^ 

C These parts of the drama, (a) 

introduction, i^b) rise, (^c) cli- 
max, [d) return or fall, (^) 
y^^'^-'^ hi \ff/' catastrophe, have each what is 

peculiar in purpose and in con- 
^j struction. Between them stand 
Q three important scenic effects, 
through which the parts are separated as well as 
bound together. Of these three dramatic moments, 
or crises, qnej^„vdliGh„JLQdi.cates . the begjnn^^ of the 
stirring^aclion, stands between the introduction and 
the rise ; the second, the beginning of the counter- 
action, between the climax and the return ; the 
third, which must rise once more before the catas- 
trophe, between the return and the catastrophe. 
They are called here the exciting moment or force, 
the tragic moment or force, and the moment or 
force oFThe last suspense. The operation of the 
first IS "necessary to every play ; the second and 
third are good but not indispensable accessories. 
In the following sections, therefore, the eight com- 
ponent parts of the drama will be discussed in their 
natural order. 

The Tntroductio7i. — It was the custom of the 
ancients to communicate in a prologue, what was pre- 
supposed for the action. The prologue of Sophocles 


and also of ^schylus is a thoroughly necessary and 
essential part of the action, having dramatic life and 
connection, and corresponding exactly to our open- 
ing scene ; and in the old stage-management signifi- 
cation of the word, it comprised that part of the 
action which lay before the entrance song of the 
chorus. In Euripides, it is, by a careless return to 
the older custom, an epic messenger announce- 
ment, which a masked figure delivers to the audi- 
ence, a figure who never once appears in the play, 
— like Aphrodite in Hyppolitus and the ghost of the 
slain Polydorus in Hecuba. In Shakespeare, the 
prologue is entirely severed from the action ; it is 
only an address of the poet ; it contains civility, 
apology, and the plea for attention. Since it is no 
longer necessary to plead for quiet and attention, the 
German stage has purposely given up the prologue, 
but allows it as a festive greeting which distin- 
guishes a single representation, or as the chance 
caprice of a poet. In Shakespeare, as with us, the 
introduction has come back again into the right 
, place ; it is filled with dramatic movement, and has 
i A become an organic part of the dramatic structure. 
\Yet, in individual cases, the newer stage has not 
been able to resist another temptation, to expand 
the introduction to a situation scene, and set it in 
advance as a special prelude to the drama. Well- 
known examples are The Maid of Orlea?is and Kdtchen 
of Heilbronn, Wallensteiri s Camp, and the most beauti- 
ful of all prologues, that to Faust. 

That such a severing of the opening scene is 


hazardous, will be readily granted. The poet who 
treats it as a separate piece, is compelled to give it 
an expansion, and divide it into members which do 
not correspond to their inner significance. What- 
ever seems separated by a strong incision, becomes 
subject to the laws of each great dramatic unit ; it 
must again have an introduction, a rise, a propor- 
tionate climax, and a conclusion. But such presup- 
positions of a drama, the circumstances previous to 
the entrance of the moving force, are not favorable 
to a strongly membered movement; and the poet 
will, therefore, have to bring forward his persons in 
embellished and proportionately broad, elaborated 
situations. He will be obliged to give these situa- 
tions in some fulness and abundance, because every 
separate structure must awaken and satisfy an inde- 
pendent interest ; and this is possible only by using 
sufficient time. But two difficulties arise in this : 
first, that the time of the chief action, not too amply 
allotted on our stage without this, will be shortened ; 
and second, that the prelude, through its broad 
treatment and quiet subject matter, will probably 
contain a color which is so different from that of the 
drama, that it distracts and satisfies, instead of pre- 
paring the spectator for the chief part. It is nearly 
alwa3^s the convenience of the poet and the defec- 
tive arrangement of the material, which occasion the 
construction of a prelude to an acting play. No 
material should keep further presuppositions than 
such as allow of reproduction in a few short touches. 
Since it is the business of the introduction of the 


drama to explain the place and time of the action, 
the nationality and life relations of the hero, it must 
at once briefly characterize the environment. Besides, 
the poet will have opportunity here, as in a short 
overture, to indicate the peculiar mood of the piece, 
as well as the time, the greater vehemence or quiet 
with which the action moves forward. The mod- 
erate movement, the mild light in Tasso, is intro- 
duced by the brilliant splendor of the princely 
garden, the quiet conversation of the richly attired 
ladies, the garlands, the adornment of the poet 
painter. In Mary Stuart, there is the breaking open 
of closets, the quarrel between Paulet and Kennedy 
— a good picture of the situation. In Nathaii the 
Wise, the excited conversation of the returning 
Nathan with Daja is an excellent introduction 
to the dignified course of the action and to the 
contrasts in the inwardly disturbed characters. 
In Piccolomini, there are the greetings of the 
generals and Questenberg, an especially beautiful 
introduction to the gradually rising movement. 
But the greatest master of fine beginnings is 
Shakespeare. In Romeo and Juliet, day, an open 
street, brawls and the clatter of the swords of 
the hostile parties ; in Hamlet, night, the startling 
call of the watch, the mounting of the guard, the 
appearance of the ghost, restless, gloomy, desperate 
excitement ; in Macbeth, storm, thunder, the unearthly 
witches and dreary heath ; and again in Richard III., 
no striking surroundings, a single man upon the 
stage, the old despotic evil genius, who controls the 


entire dramatic life of the piece, himself speaking 
the prologue. So in each of his artistic dramas. 

It may be asserted that, as a rule, it is expedient 
soon after the opening scene, to strike the first 
chords firmly and with as much emphasis as the char- 
acter of the piece will allow. Of course, Clavigo is 
not opened with the rattle of the drum, nor William 
Tell with the quarrelling of children in the quiet 
life of the household ; a brief excited movement, 
adapted to the piece, conducts without violence to 
the more quiet exposition. Occasionally this first 
exciting strain in Shakespeare, to whom his stage 
allowed greater liberty, is separated from the suc- 
ceeding exposition by a scenic passage. Thus in 
Hamlet, a court scene follows it ; in Macbeth, the 
entrance of Duncan and the news of the battle. So 
in Julius Ccesar, where the conference and strife 
between the tribunes and the plebeians form the 
first strong stroke, to which the exposition, the con- 
versation of Cassius and Brutus, and the holiday 
procession of Cassar, is closely joined. Also in 
Alary Stuart, after the quarrel with Paulet, comes 
the exposition, the scene between Mary and Ken- 
nedy. So in William Tell, after the charming, only 
too melodramatic opening situation, comes the con- 
versation of the country people. 

Now certainly this note, sounded at the begin- 
ning, is not necessarily a loud unison of the voices 
of different persons ; brief but deep emotions in the 
chief characters may very well indicate the first rip- 
ple of the short waves which has to precede the 


storms of the drama. So in Emilia Galotti, the 
exposition of the restless agitation of the prince at 
the work-table goes through the greater beating of 
waves in the conversation with Conti even into the 
scene with Marinelli, which contains the exciting 
force, the news of the impending marriage of 
Emilia. Similarly but less conveniently in Clavigo, 
it goes from the conversation at Clavigo's desk, 
through Mar^^'s dwelling, to the beginning of the 
action itself, — the visit of Beaumarchais to Clavigo. 
Indeed, the action may arise so gradually that the 
quiet preserved from the beginning forms an effect- 
ive background, as in Goethe's Iphigenia. 

If Shakespeare and the Germans of the earlier 
times, — Sara Sampsoji, Clavigo — have not avoided 
the changing of scenes in the introduction, their 
example is not to be imitated on our stage. The 
exposition should be kept free from anything 
distracting; its task, to prepare for the action, it 
best accomplishes if it so proceeds that the first 
short introductory chord is followed by a well- 
executed scene which by a quick transition is con- 
i nected with the following scene containing the 
^ exciting force. Julius Ccesar, Mary Stuart, Wallen- 
steiriy are excellent examples in this direction. 

The difficulty of giving also to the representa- 
tive of the counter-play a place in the introduction, 
is not insurmountable. In the arrangement of 
scenes, at least, the poet must feel the full mastery 
of his material ; and it is generally an embarrass- 
ment of his power of imagination when this seems 


impossible to him. However, should the fitting of 
the counter-party into the exposition be impracti- 
cable, there is always still time enough to bring 
them forward in the first scenes of the involution. 

Without forcing all possible cases into the same 
uniform mould, therefore, the poet may hold firmly 
to this: the construction of a regular introduction 
is as follows: a clearly defining keynote, 3, fini shed , 
scene, a short transition into the first moment of the! 
excited action. 

'ThTExcithig Force. — The beginning of the excited 
action (complication) occurs at a point where, in the 
soul of the hero, there arises a feeling or volition 
which becomes the occasion of what follows ; or 
where the counter-play resolves to use its lever to set , 
the hero in motion. Manifestly, this impelling force 
will come forward more significantly in those plays in 
which the chief actor governs the first half by his 
force of will ; but in any arrangement, it remains an ^ 
important motive force for- the action. \x\. Julius 
Ccssar, this impelling force is the thought of killing 
Caesar, which, by the conversation with Cassius, 
gradually becomes fixed in the soul of Brutus. In 
Othello, it comes into play after the stormy night- 
scene of the exposition, by means of the second 
conference between lago and Roderigo, with the 
agreement to separate the Moor and Desdemona. 
In Richard III., on the contrary, it rises in the very 
beginning of the piece along with the exposition, 
and as a matured plan in the soul of the hero. In 
both cases, its position helps to fix the character of 


the piece ; in Othello, where the counter-play leads at 
the conclusion of a long introduction ; in Richard 
III., where the villain alone rules in the first scene. 
In Romeo a?id Juliet, this occasioning motive comes 
to the soul of the hero in the interview with Benvo- 
lio, as the determination to be present at the masked 
ball ; and immediately before this scene, there runs 
as parallel scene, the conversation between Paris 
and Capulet, which determines the fate of Juliet ; 
both scenic moments, in such significant juxtaposi- 
tion, form together the impelling force of this 
drama, which has two heroes, the two lovers. In 
Emilia Galotti, it sinks into the soul of the prince, 
as he receives the announcement of the impending 
marriage of the heroine ; in Clavigo, it is the arrival 
of Beaumarchais at his sister's ; in Mary Stuart, it is 
the confession which Mortimer makes to the queen. 
Scarcely will any one cherish the opinion that 
Faust might have become better as a regular acting 
drama ; but it is quite instructive to conceive from 
this greatest poem of the Germans, how the laws of 
creation, even with the freest exercise of invention, 
demanded obedience to dramatic form. This poem, 
too, has its exciting force, the entrance of Mephis- 
topheles into Faust's room. What precedes is 
exposition ; the dramatically animated action 
includes the relations of Faust and Gretchen ; it 
has its rising, and its falling half ; from the appear- 
ance of Mephistopheles, it ascends to the climax, to 
the scene which refers to the surrender of Gretchen 
to Faust ; from there it descends to the catastrophe. 


The unusual form of the structure lies, aside from 
the later episodes, only in this, that the scenes of 
the introduction, and of the exciting force, occupy 
half of the play, and that the climax is not brought 
out with sufficient strength. As for the rest, the 
piece, the scenes of which glitter like a string of 
pearls, has a little complete, well-ordered action, of 
a simple and even regular character. It is neces- 
sary only to think of the meeting with Gretchen as 
at the end of the first act. 

Shakespeare treats the inception of the animated 
movement with special care. If the exciting force ^ 
is ever too small and weak for him, as in Romeo and 
Juliet, he understands how to strengthen it. There- 
fore, Romeo, after his conclusion to intrude upon 
the Capulets, must pronounce his gloomy forebod- 
ings before the house. In three pieces, Shakes- 
peare has yielded to his inclination to repeat a 
motive, each time with increased effect. As in the 
scene in Othello, "Put money in thy purse," is a 
variation of the introductory note, so are the weird 
sisters, who excite the bloody thought in Macbeth, 
so is the ghost which announces the murder to j 
Hamlet. What at the beginning of the piece indi- / 
cated tone and color, becomes the inciting force for j * 
the soul of the hero.. 

From the examples cited, it is evident that this 
force of the action treads the stage under very 
diverse forms. It may fill a complete scene ; it may 
be comprised in a few words. It must not always 
press from without into the soul of the hero or his 


adversary ; it may be, also, a thought, a wish, a reso- 
lution, which by a succession of representations may 
be allured from the soul of the hero himself. But 
it always forms the transition from the introduction 
to the ascending action, either entering suddenly, 
like Mortimer's declaration in Mary Stuarty and the 
rescue of Baumgarten in William Telly or gradually 
developing through the speeches and mental pro- 
cesses of the characters, like Brutus's resolve to do 
the murder, where in no place in the dialogue the 
fearful words are pronounced, but the significance of 
the scene is emphasized by the suspicion which 
Caesar, entering meantime, expresses. 

Yet it is for the worker to notice, that this force 
seldom admits of great elaboration. Its place is at 
the beginning of the piece, where powerful pressure 
upon the hearer is neither necessary nor advisable. 
It has the character of a motive which gives direc- 
tion and preparation, and does not offer a single 
resting-place. It must not be insignificant ; but it 
must not be so strong that, according to the feeling 
of the audience, it takes too much from what fol- 
lows, or that the suspense which it causes, may 
modify, or perhaps determine, the fate of the hero. 
Hamlet's suspicion can not be raised to uncondi- 
tional certainty by the revelation of the ghost, or 
the course of the piece must be entirely different. 
The resolution of Cassius and Brutus must not 
come out in distinct words, in order that Brutus's 
following consideration of the matter, and the 
administration of the oath, may seem a progress. 


The poet will, probably, sometimes have to moderate 
the importance attached to this force, which has 
made it too conspicuous. But he must always 
I bring it into operation as soon as possible ; for 
i only from its introduction forward does earnest 
dramatic work begin. 

A convenient arrangement for our stage is to 
give the exciting force in a temperate scene after 
the introduction, and closely join to this the first 
following rising movement, in greater elaboration. 
Mary Stuart, for example, is of this regular struc- 

The Rising Movement. — The action has been 
I started ; the chief persons have shown what they 
' are ; the interest has been awakened. Mood, pas- 
sion, involution have received an impulse in a given 
direction. In the modern drama of three hours, 
they are no insignificant parts, which belong to this 
ascent. Its arrangement has comparatively little 
significance. The following are the general rules: 

If it has not been possible to accord a place in 
what has gone before, to the most important persons 
in the counter-play, or to the chief groups, a place 
must be made for them now, and opportunity must 
be given for an activity full of meaning. Such per- 
sons, too, as are of importance in the last half, must 
eagerly desire now to make themselves known to the 
audience. Whether the ascent is made by one or 
several stages to the climax, depends on material 
and treatment. In any case, a resting place in the 
action, and even in the structure of a scene, is to be 


so expressed that the dramatic moments, acts, scenes, 
which belong to the same division of the action, are 
joined together so as to produce a unified chief 
•!fcene, subordinate scene, connecting scene. In Julius 
CcBsar, for instance, the ascent, from the moment 
of excitation to the climax, consists of only one 
stage, the conspiracy. This makes, with the pre- 
paratory scene, and the scene of the contrast 
belonging to it, an attractive scene-group very beau- 
tifully constructed, even according to the demands 
of our stage ; and with this group, those scenes are 
closely joined which are grouped about the murder- 
scene, the climax of the play. On the other hand, 
the rising movement in Romeo and Juliet, runs 
through four stages to the climax. The structure 
of this ascending group is as follows. First stage : 
masked ball ; three parts, two preparatory scenes 
(Juliet with her mother, and nurse) (Romeo and his 
companions); and one chief scene (the ball itself, 
consisting of one suggestion — conversation of the 
servants — and four forces — Capulet stirring up mat- 
ters; Tybalt's rage and setting things to rights ; con- 
versation of the lovers ; Juliet and the nurse as con- 
clusion). Second stage: The garden scene ^ short 
preparatory scene (Benvolio and Mercutio seeking 
Romeo) and the great chief scene (the lovers deter- 
mining upon marriage). Third stage: The mar- 
riage; four parts; first scene, Laurence and Romeo; 
second scene, Romeo and companions, and nurse as 
messenger; third scene, Juliet, and nurse as messen- 
ger; fourth scene, Laurence and the lovers, and the 


marriage. Fourth stage : Tybalt's death ; fighting 

Then follows the group of scenes forming the 
climax, beginning with Juliet's words, " Gallop apace 
you fiery footed steeds," and extending to Romeo's 
farewell, '* It were a grief, so brief to part with thee ; 
farewell." In the four stages of the rise, one must 
notice the different structure of individual scenes. 
In the masked ball, little scenes are connected in 
quick succession to the close ; the garden scene is 
the elaborate great scene of the lovers ; in beautiful 
contrast with this, in the marriage scene-group, the 
accomplice, Laurence, and the nurse are kept in the 
foreground, the lovers are concealed. Tybalt's 
death is the strong break which separates the aggre- 
gate rise from the climax ; the scenes of this part 
have a loftier swing, a more passionate movement. 
The arrangement of the piece is very careful ; the 
progress of both heroes and their motives are spe- 
cially laid for each in every two adjoining scenes 
with parallel course. 

This same kind of rise, slower, with less fre- 
quently changing scenes, is common with the Ger- 
mans. In Love mid Intrigue, for example, the 
exciting force of the play is the announcement of 
Wurm to his father that Ferdinand loves the daugh- 
ter of the musician. From here the piece rises in 
counterplay through four stages. First stage: (the 
father demands the marriage with Milford) in two 
scenes; preparatory scene (he has the betrothal 
announced through Kalb); chief scene (he compels 


the son to visit Milford). Second stage: (Ferdi- 
nand and Milford) two preparatory scenes ; great 
chief 'scene (the lady insists on marrying him). 
Third stage : Two preparatory scenes ; great chief 
scene (the president will put Louise under arrest, 
Ferdinand resists). Fourth stage: Two scenes 
(plan of the president with the letter, and the plot 
of the villains). The climax follows this: Chief 
scene, the composition of the letter. This piece also 
has the peculiarity of having two heroes — the two 

The import of the play is, it must be owned, 
painful ; but the construction is, with some awk- 
wardness in the order of scenes, still, on the whole, 
regular, and worthy of special consideration, because 
it is produced far more through the correct feeling 
of the young poet, than through a sure technique. 
As to the scenes of this rising movement, it may 
i be said, they have to produce a progressive inten- 
■ sity of interest ; they must, therefore, not only 
evince progress in their import, but they must show 
an enlargement in form and treatment, and, indeed, 
with variation and shading in execution ; if several 
steps are necessary, the next to the last, or the last, 
I must preserve the character of a chief scene. 
M The Climax. — The climax of the drama is the 

] place in the piece where the results of the rising 
j movement come out strong and decisively ; it is 
almost always the crowning point of a great, ampli- 
fied scene, enclosed by the smaller connecting scenes 
of the rising, and of the falling action. The poet 


needs to use all the splendor of poetry, all the 
dramatic skill of his art, in order to make vividly 
conspicuous this middle point of his artistic crea- 
tion. It has the highest significance only in those 
pieces in which the hero, through his own mental 
processes, impels the ascending action ; in those 
dramas which rise by means of the counter-play, it 
does not indicate an important place, where this play 
has attained the mastery of the chief hero, and mis- 
leads him in the direction of the fall. Splendid 
examples are to be found in almost every one of 
Shakespeare's plays and in the plays of the Ger- 
mans. The hovel scene in Ki7ig Lear, with the play 
of the three deranged persons, and the judgment 
scene with the stool, is perhaps one of the most 
effective that was ever put on the stage ; and the 
rising action in Lear, up to the scene of this irre- 
pressible madness, is of terrible magnificence. The' 
scene is also remarkable because the great poet has 
here used humor to intensify the horrible effect, and 
because this is one of the very rare places, where 
the audience, in spite of the awful commotion, per- 
ceives with a certain surprise that Shakespeare uses 
artifices to bring out the effect. Edgar is no fortu- 
nate addition to the scene. In another way, the 
banquet scene in Macbeth is instructive. In this 
tragedy, a previous scene, the night of the murder, 
had been so powerfully worked out, and so richly 
endowed with the highest dramatic poetry, that there 
might easily be despair as to the possibility of any 
further rise in the action. And yet it is effected ; 


the murderer's struggle with the ghost, and the fear- 
ful struggles with his conscience, in the restless 
scene to which the social festivity and royal splen- 
dor give the most effective contrasts, are pictured 
with a truth, and in a wild kind of poetic frenzy, 
which make the hearer's heart throb and shudder. 
In Othello, on the other hand, the climax lies in the 
great scene in which lago arouses Othello's jeal- 
ousy. It is slowly prepared, and is the beginning 
of the convulsing soul-conflict in which the hero 
perishes. In Clavigo, the reconciliation of Clavigo 
with Marie, and in Emilia Galotti, the prostration of 
Emilia, form the climax, concealed in both cases by 
the predominating counter-play. Again, in Schiller, 
it is powerfully developed in all plays. 

This outburst of deed from the soul of the hero, 
or the influx of portentous impressions into the soul ; 
the first great result of a sublime struggle, or the 
beginning of a mortal inward conflict, — must appear 
inseparably connected with what goes before as well 
as with what follows ; it will be brought into relief 
through broad treatment or strong effect; but it 
will, as a rule, be represented in its development 
from the rising movement and its effect on the 
environment ; therefore, the climax naturally forms 
the middle point of a group of forces, which, dart- 
ing in either direction, course upward and down- 

In the case where the climax is connected with 
the downward movement by a tragic force, the 
structure of the drama presents something peculiar, 


through the juxtaposition of two important passages 
which stand in sharp contrast with each other. This 
tragic force must first receive attention. This 
beginning of the downward movement is best con- 
nected with the climax, and separated from the fol- 
lowing forces of the counter-play to which it belongs 
by a division — our close of an act; and this is best 
brought about not immediately after the beginning 
of the tragic force, but by a gradual modulation of 
its sharp note. It is a matter of indifference 
whether this connection of the two great contrasted 
scenes is effected by uniting them into one scene, or 
by means of a connecting scene. A splendid exam- 
ple of the former is in Coriolanus. 

In this piece, the action rises from the exciting 
force (the news that war with the Volscians is inev- 
itable) through the first ascent (fight between 
Coriolanus and Aufidius) to the climax, the nomi- 
nation of Coriolanus as consul. The tragic force, 

the banishment, begins here ; what seems about to 
become the highest elevation of the hero, becomes 
by his untamable pride just the opposite ; he is 
overthrown. This overthrow does not occur sud- 
denly ; it is seen to perfect itself gradually on the 
stage — as Shakespeare loves to have it — and what 
is overwhelming in the result is first perceived at 
the close of the scene. The two points, bound 
together here by the rapid action, form together a 
powerful group of scenes of violent commotion, the 
whole of far-reaching and splendid effect. But, 
also, after the close of this double scene, the action 


is not at once cut into ; for there is immediately 
joined to this, as contrast, the beautiful, dignified 
pathos scene of the farewell, which forms a transi- 
tion to what follows ; and yet after the hero has 
departed, this helps to exhibit the moods of those 
remaining behind, as a trembling echo of the fierce 
excitement, before the point of repose is reached. 

The climax and the tragic force are still more 
closely united in Mary Stuart. Here, also, the 
beginning of the climax is sharply denoted by the 
monologue and the elevated lyric mood of Mary, 
after the style of an ancient pathos scene; and this 
mood scene is bound by a little connecting song to 
the great dialogue scene between Mary and Eliza- 
beth ; but the dramatic climax reaches even into 
this great scene, and in this lies the transition to the 
ominous strife, which again in its development is 
set forth in minute detail. 

Somewhat more sharply are the climax and tragic 
force in Julius CcBsar separated from each other by 
a complete connecting scene. The group of murder 
scenes is followed by the elaborate scene of the 
conspirators' conversation with Antony — this inter- 
polated passage of beautiful workmanship — and 
after this the oration scenes of Brutus and Antony ; 
and after this follow little transitions to the parts of 
the return. 

This close connection of the two important parts 
gives to the drama with tragic force a magnitude 
and expanse of the middle part, which — if the 
playful comparison of the lines may be carried out, 


— changes the pyramidal form into one with a 
double apex. 

^ I The most difficult part of the drama is the ^ 
J sequence of scenes in the downward movement, or, 

-^ as it may well be called, the return; specially in 
powerful plays in which the heroes are the directing 
force, do these dangers enter most. Up to the 
climax, the interest has been firmly fixed in the 
direction in which the chief characters are moving. 
Aher the deed is consummated, a pause ensues. 
Suspense must now be excited in what is new. For , 
this, new forces, perhaps new roles, must be intro- 
duced, in which the hearer is to acquire interest. 
On account of this, there is already danger in dis-j 
traction and in the breaking up of scenic effects. 
And yet, it must be added, the hostility of the 
counter-party toward the hero cannot always be | 
easily concentrated in one person nor in one situa- 
tion ; sometimes it is necessary to show how fre- 
quently, now and again, it beats upon the soul of the 
hero ; and in this way, in contrast with the unity 
and firm advance of the first half of the play, the 
second may be ruptured, in many parts, restless ; 
this is particularly the case with historical subjects, 
where it is most difficult to compose the counter- 
party of a few characters only. 

And yet the return demands a strong bringing '■ 
out and intensifying of the scenic effects, on account 
of the satisfaction already accorded the hearer, and ; 
on account of the greater significance of the strug- i 
gle. Therefore, the first law for the construction of 


this part is that the number of persons be limited 
as much as possible, and that the effects be com- 
prised in great scenes. All the art of technique, all 
the power of invention, are necessary to insure here 
an advance in interest. 

One thing more. This part of the drama spec- 
ially lays claims upon the character of the poet. 
Fate wins control over the hero ; his battles move 
toward a momentous close, which affects his whole 
life. There is no longer time to secure effects by 
means of little artifices, careful elaboration, beauti- 
ful details, neat motives. The essence of the 
whole, idea and conduct of the action, comes for- 
ward powerfully ; the audience understands the 
connection of events, sees the ultimate purpose 
of the poet ; he must now exert himself for the high- 
est effects ; he begins, testing every step in the 
midst of his interest, to contribute to this work 
from the mass of his knowledge, of his spiritual 
affinities, and of what meets the wants of his own 
nature. Every error in construction, every lack in 
characterization, will now be keenly felt. Therefore 
the second rule is valuable for this part ; only great 
strokes, great effects. Even the episodes which 
are now ventured, must have a certain significance, 
a certain energy. How numerous the stages must 
be through which the hero's fall passes, cannot be 
fixed by rule, farther than that the return makes a 
a less number desirable than, in general, the rising 
movement allows. For the gradual increase of 
these effects, it will be useful to insert, just before 


the catastrophe, a finished scene which either shows 
the contending forces in the strife with the hero, in 
the most violent activity, or affords a clear insight 
into the life of the hero. The great scene, Corio- 
lanus and his mother, is an example of the one case ; 
the monologue of Juliet, before taking the sleep 
potion, and the sleep-walking scene of Lady Mac- 
beth, of the other case. 

TJie Force of the Final Suspense. — It is well under- 
stood that the catastrophe must not come entirely 
as a surprise to the audience. The more powerful 
the climax, the more violent the downfall of the 
hero, so much the more vividly must the end be felt 
in advance ; the less the dramatic power of the poet 
in the middle of the piece, the more pains will he 
take toward the end, and the more will he seek to 
make use of striking effects. Shakespeare never 
does this, in his regularly constructed pieces. 
Easily, quickly, almost carelessly, he projects the 
catastrophe, without surprising, with new effects ; it 
is for him such a necessary consequence of the; 
whole previous portion of the piece, and the master 
is so certain to bear forward the audience with him, 
that he almost hastens over the necessities of the 
close. This talented man very correctly perceived, 
that it is necessary, in good time to prepare the 
mind of the audience for the catastrophe ; for this 
reason, Caesar's "ghost appears to Brutus ; for this ^ 
reason, Edmund tells the soldier he must in certain I 
circumstances slay Lear and Cordelia; for this 
reason, Romeo must, still before Juliet's tomb, slay 


Paris, in order that the audience, which at this 
moment, no longer thinks of Tybalt's death, may 
not, after all, cherish the hope that the piece will 
close happily ; for this reason, must the mortal 
envy of Aufidius toward Coriolanus be repeatedly 
expressed before the great scene of the return of 
the action ; and Coriolanus must utter these great 
words, "Thou hast lost thy son;" for this reason 
the king must previously discuss with Laertes the 
murdering of Hamlet by means of a poisoned 
rapier. Notwithstanding all this, it is sometimes 
hazardous to hasten to the end without interrup- 
tion. Just at the time when the weight of an evil 
destiny has already long burdened the hero, for 
whom the active sympathy of the audience is hop- 
ing relief, although rational consideration makes 
the inherent necessity of his destruction very evi- 
dent, — in such a case, it is an old, unpretentious 
poetic device, to give the audience for a few 
moments a prospect of relief. This is done by f 
means of a new, slight suspense ; a slight hindrance, j 
a distant possibility of a happy release, is thrown in 
the way of the already indicated direction of the 
end. Brutus must explain that he considers it 
cowardly to kill one's self ; the dying Edmund f 
must revoke the command to kill Lear; Friar 
Laurence may still enter before the moment when 
Romeo kills himself; Coriolanus may yet be 
acquitted by the judges ; Macbeth is still invul- 
nerable from any man born of woman, even when 
Burnam Wood is approaching his castle ; even Rich- 


ard III. receives the news that Richmond's fleet is 
shattered and dispersed by the storm. The use of 
this artifice is old ; Sophocles used it to good pur- 
pose in Antigone ; Creon is softened, and revokes 
the death sentence of Antigone ; if it has gone so 
far with her as he commanded, yet she may be 
saved. It is worthy of note that the Greeks looked 
upon this fine stroke far differently from the way 
we regard it. 

Yet it requires a fine sensibility to make good 
use of this force. It must not be insignificant or 
it will not have the desired effect; it must be made 
to grow out of the action and out of the character 
of the persons; it must not come out so prominent 
that it essentially changes the relative position of 
the parties. Above the rising possibility, the spec- 
tator must always perceive the downward com- 
pelling force of what has preceded. 

The Catastrophe. — The catastrophe of the drama 
is the closing action ; it is what the ancient stage 
called the exodus. In it the embarrassment of the 
chief characters is relieved through a great deed. 
The more profound the strife which has gone for- 
ward in the hero's soul, the more noble its purpose 
has been, so much more logical will the destruction 
of the succumbing hero be. 

And the warning must be given here, that the 
poet should not allow himself to be misled by 
modern tender-heartedness, to spare the life of his 
hero on the stage. The drama must present an 
action, including within itself all its parts, excluding 


all else, perfectly complete ; if the struggle of a hero 
has in fact, taken hold of his entire life, it is not 
old tradition, but inherent necessity, that the poet 
shall make the complete ruin of that life impressive. 
That to the modern mind, a life not weak, may, under 
certain circumstances, survive mortal conflicts, does 
not change anything for the drama, in this matter. 
As for the power and vitality of an existence which 
lies subsequent to the action of the piece, the innu- 
merable reconciling and reviving circumstances which 
may consecrate a new life, these, the drama shall 
not and can not represent ; and a reference to them 
will never afford to the audience the satisfaction of 
a definite conclusion. 

Concerning the end of the heroes, however, it 
must be said, the perception of the reasonableness 
and necessity of such a destruction, while reconcil- 
ing, and elevating, must be vivid. This is possible 
only when, by the doom of the heroes, a real adjust- 
ment of conflicting forces is produced. It is neces- 
sary, in the closing words of the drama, to recall 
that nothing accidental, nothing happening but a 
single time, has been presented, but a poetic crea- 
tion, which has a universally intelligible meaning. 

To the more recent poets, the catastrophe is 
accustomed to present difliculties. This is not a 
good sign. It requires unembarrassed judgment to 
discover the reconciliation which is not opposed to 
the feeling of the audience, and yet embraces col- 
lectively the necessary results of the piece. Crude- 
ness and a weak sensibility offend most where the 


entire work of the stage should find its justification 
and confirmation. But the catastrophe contains 
only the necessary consequences of the action and 
the characters ; whoever has borne both firmly in 
his soul, can have little doubt about the conclusion 
of his play. Indeed, since the whole construction 
points toward the end, a powerful genius may rather 
be exposed to the opposite danger of working out 
the end too soon, and bearing it about with him fin- 
ished ; then the ending may come into contradiction 
with the fine gradations which the previous parts 
have received during the elaboration. Something 
of this kind is noticeable in The Prince of Hamburgh 
where the somnambulism at the close, corresponding 
to the beginning, and manifestly having a firm place 
in the soul of the poet, is not at all in accord with 
the clear tone and free treatment of the fourth and 
fifth acts. Similarly in Egmont, the conclusion, 
Clara, as freed Holland in transfiguration, can be 
conceived as written sooner than the last scene of 
Clara herself in the piece, with which this conclu- 
sion is not consistent. 

For the construction of the catastrophe, the fol- 
lowing rules are of value : First, avoid every unnec- 
essary word, and leave no word unspoken whereby 
the idea of the piece can, without effort, be made 
clear from the nature of the characters. Further, 
the poet must deny himself broad elaboration of 
scenes ; must keep what he presents dramatically, 
brief, simple, free from ornament ; must give in dic- 
tion and action, the best and most impressive ; must 


confine the scenes with their indispensable connec- 
tions within a small body, with quick, pulsating life ; 
must avoid, so long as the action is in progress, new 
or difficult stage-effects, especially the effects of 

/ There are many different qualities of a poetic 
/ nature, which are called into operation in these eight 
/ parts of the drama on which its artistic structure 
/ rests. To find a good introduction and a stimula- 
\ ting force which arouses the hero's soul and keeps it 
, in suspense, is the task of shrewdness and expe- 
' rience ; to bring out a strong climax is specially the 
business of poetic power ; to make the closing catas- 
trophe effective requires a manly heart and an 
exalted power of deliberation ; to make the return 
effective is the most difficult. Here neither experi- 
ence nor poetic resource, nor yet a wise, clear vision 
of the poetic spirit, can guarantee success ; it 
requires a union of all these properties. In addition, 
it requires a good subject and some good ideas, that 
is, good luck. Of the component parts discussed, 
all of them, or such as are necessary, every artistic 
drama of ancient or modern times is composed. 



The tragedy of the Athenians still exercises its 
power over the creative poet of the present ; not 
only the imperishable beauty of its contents, but its 
poetic form influences our poetic work ; the tragedy 


of antiquity has essentially contributed to separate 
our drama from the stage productions of the middle 
ages, and give it a more artistic structure and more 
profound meaning. Therefore, before an account is 
given of the technical arrangement in the tragedies 
of Sophocles, it will be necessary to recall those 
peculiarities of the ancient stage, which, so far as 
we can judge, with their demands and limitations, 
controlled the Athenian poet. What is easily found 
elsewhere will be but briefly mentioned here. 

The tragedy of the old world grew out of the 
dithyrambic solo songs with choruses, which were 
used in the Dionysian spring-time festivals ; gradu- 
ally the speeches of individuals were introduced 
between the dithyrambs and choruses, and were 
enlarged to an action. The tragedy retained from 
these beginnings, the chorus, the song of single 
leading roles in the moments of highest excitement, 
the alternating songs of the actors and of the chorus. 
It was a natural consequence that the part of the 
tragedy won the mastery, and the chorus receded. 
In the oldest plays of ^schylus. The Persians and 
TJie S2ipplia7its, the choral songs are by far the larger 
part. They have a beauty, a magnitude, and so 
powerful a dramatic movement that neither in our 
oratorios nor in our operas is there much that can 
be compared with them. The short incidental sen- 
tences interpolated, spoken by individual characters, 
and not lyric-musical, serve almost entirely as 
motives to produce new moods in the solo singer 
and the chorus. But already in the time of 


Euripides, the chorus had stepped into the back- 
ground, its connection with the developed action 
was loose, it sank from its position of guide and 
confidant of the chief characters to a quite unessen- 
tial part of the drama, choral songs of one drama 
were used for another ; and at last they represented 
nothing but the song which completed the interval 
between acts. But the lyric element remained fixed 
in the action itself. Well-planned, broadly elab- 
orated sentimental scenes of the performers, sung 
and spoken, remained in important places of the 
action an indispensable component part of the 
tragedy. These pathos-scenes, the renown of the 
first actor, the centre of brilliance for ancient acting, 
contain the elements of the lyric situation in a com- 
pleteness which we can no longer imitate. In them 
are comprised the touching effects of the tragedy. 
These long-winded gushings of inner feeling had so 
great a charm for the audience that to such scenes 
unity and verisimilitude of action were sacrificed by 
the weaker poets. But however beautiful and full 
the feeling sounds in them, the dramatic movement 
is not great. There are poetic observations upon 
one's own condition, supplications to the gods, feel- 
ing portrayal of peculiar relations. The first of 
these may perhaps be compared with the mono- 
logues of modern times, although in them the 
chorus sometimes represents the sympathising 
hearer, sometimes the hearer who responds. 

That extension of the old dithyrambic songs, 
first to oratorios, the solo-singers in which appeared 


in festal costume with simple pantomime, then to 
dramas with a well-developed art of representation, 
was effected by means of an action which was taken 
almost exclusively from the realm of Hellenic 
heroic legend and the epic. Isolated attempts of 
poets to extend this realm remained, on the whole, 
without success. Even before ^Eschylus, a com- 
poser of oratorios had once attempted to make use 
of historical material ; the oldest drama of yEschylus 
which has been preserved for us, made use of histor- 
ical material of the immediate past ; but the Greeks 
had, at that time, no historical writings at all, in our 
sense of the word. A successful attempt to put on 
the stage material freely invented, had in the flour- 
ishing time of the Greek tragedy little imitation. 

Such a restriction to a well-defined field of mate- 
rial was a blessing as well as a doom to the Attic 
stage. It confined the dramatic situations and the 
dramatic effects to a rather narrow circle, in which 
the older poets with fresh power attained the highest 
success, but which soon gave occasion to the later 
poets to seek new effects along side-lines ; and this 
made the decay of the drama unavoidable. Indeed, 
there was between the world from which the mate- 
rial was taken and the essential conditions of the 
drama, an inherent opposition which the highest 
skill did not suffice to conquer, and at which the 
talents of Euripides grew powerless. 

The species of poetry which before the develop- 
ment of the drama had made legendary subjects 
dear to the people, maintained a place in certain 


scenes of the play. It was a popular pleasure 
among the Greeks to listen to public speeches, and 
later, to have epic poems read to them. This cus- 
tom gave to the tragedy longer accounts of occur- 
rences which were essential to the action, and these 
occupied more space than would be accorded to 
them in the later drama. For the stage, the narra- 
tive was imbued with dramatic vividness. Heralds, 
messengers, soothsayers, are standing roles for such 
recitals ; and the scenes in which they appear have, 
as a rule, the same disposition. After a short intro- 
duction, the informants give their narration ; then 
follow a few longer or shorter verses of like meas- 
ure, quickly exchanged question and answer ; at last 
the result of the announcement is compassed in brief 
words. The narrative comes in where it is most 
striking, in the catastrophe. The last exit of the 
hero is sometimes only announced. 

In another way, the conduct of the scenes was 
influenced through the great opportunity of the 
Attic market, the judicial proceedings. It was a 
passion of the people to listen to the speeches of 
the accuser and of the defender. The highest 
artistic development of Greek judicial oratory, but 
also the artificial manner in which it was sought to 
produce effects, fine sophistical rhetoric, intruded 
upon the Attic stage, and determined the character 
of the speaking scenes. These scenes, also, con- 
sidered as a whole, are fashioned according to 
established rules. The first actor delivers a little 
speech ; the second answers in a speech of similar, 


sometimes exactly equal length ; then follows a sort 
of rotation verses, each four answered by another 
four, three by three, two by two, one by one ; then 
both actors resume their position and condense 
what they have to say, in second speeches ; then 
follows the rattle of rotation verses, till he who is to 
be victor, once more briefly explains his point of 
view. The last word, a slight preponderance in 
verses, turns the scale. This structure, sometimes 
interrupted and divided by interpolated speeches of 
the chorus, has not the highest dramatic movement, 
despite the interchange of finished oratory, and in 
spite of the externally strong and progressive 
animation ; it is an oratorical exposition of a point 
of view ; it is a contest with subtle arguments, too 
oratorical for our feeling, too calculated, too artifi- 
cial. One party is seldom convinced by the other. 
Indeed this had still another ground ; for it is not 
easily allowed to an Attic hero to change his opin- 
ion on account of the orations of some one else. 
When there was a third role on the stage, the collo- 
quy preserved the character of a dialogue ; sudden 
and repeated interlocking of the characters was 
infrequent, and only momentary ; if the third role 
entered into the colloquy, the second retreated ; the 
change was usually made conspicuous by the inser- 
tion of a choral line. Mass-scenes, as we understand 
the word, were not known on the ancient stage. 

The action ran through these pathos-scenes, 
messenger-scenes, colloquy-scenes, orations, and 
announcements of official persons to the chorus. If 


one adds to these the revolution-scenes, and the 
recognition-scenes, the aggregate contents of the 
piece will be found arranged according to the forms 
prescribed by the craft. The endowment of the 
poets is preserved for us in the way they knew how 
to give animation to these forms. Sophocles is 
greatest ; and for this reason, what is constant in 
his works is most varied and, as it were, concealed. 
In another way, the construction of the drama 
was modified through the peculiar circumstances 
under which its production took place. The Attic 
tragedies were presented in the flourishing time of 
Athens, on the days of the Dionysian festivals. At 
these festivals the poet contested with his rivals, not 
as author of the dramas ; but when he did not also 
appear himself as actor, he appeared as manager or 
director. As such, he was united with his actors 
and the leader of the chorus in a partnership. To 
each poet, a day was allotted. On this day he 
must produce four plays, the last being, as a rule, a 
burlesque-play. It may be wondered which was 
the most astonishing, the creative power of the poet, 
or the endurance of the audience. If we conceive 
of a burlesque-play added to the trilogy of ^schy- 
lus, and estimate the time required for the perform- 
ance according to the experience of our stage, and 
take into account the slowness with which it must 
be delivered, because of the peculiar acoustics of the 
great hall, and the necessity of a sharp, well-marked 
declamation, this representation on the stage must 
have required, with its brief interruptions at the end 


of pieces, at least nine hours. Three tragedies of 
Sophocles, together with the burlesque, must have 
claimed at least ten hours.^° 

The three serious plays were, in the earlier times, 
bound into one consistent action, which was taken 
from the same legendary source. So long as this 
old trilogy-form lasted, they had the nature of 
colossal acts, each of which brought a part of the 
action to a close. When Sophocles had disregarded 
this custom, and as contestant for the prize, put on 
the stage three independent, complete plays, one 
after another, the pieces stood worthy of confidence 
for their inner relations. How far a heightening of 
aggregate effect was secured by significant combina- 
tion of ideas and action, by parallelism and contrast 
of situations, we can no longer ignore ; but it follows 
from the nature of all dramatic representation, that 
the poet must have aspired to a progressive rise, a 
certain aggregation of the effects then possible." 

And as the spectators sat before the stage in the 
exalted mood of the holy spring-festival, so the chief 
actors were clothed in a festal costume. The cos- 
tume of the individual roles was usually prescribed 
strictly according to the custom of the festival ; the 
actors wore masks with an aperture for the mouth, 
the high cothurnus on their feet, the body padded, 
and decked with long garments. Both sides of the 
stage, and the three doors in the background, through 
which the actors entered and made their exits, were 
arranged appropriately for their use in the piece. 

But the poet contested on his theatre day, through 


four plays, with the same players, who were called 
prize-contestants. The older Attic oratorios had 
only one actor, who entered in different roles in a 
different costume ; ^schylus added a second, Sopho- 
cles added a third. The Attic theatre never, in its 
most palmy days, exceeded three solo actors. This 
restriction of the number of players determined 
the technique of the Greek tragedy, more than any 
other circumstance. It was, however, no restriction 
which any resolute will could have dispensed with. 
Not external reasons alone hindered an advance ; 
old tradition, the interest which the state took in the 
representations, and perhaps not less the circum- 
stance, that the immense open auditorium on the 
Acropolis, which seated 30,000 persons, demanded 
a metallic quality of voice, a discipline of utterance 
possessed certainly by very few. To this must be 
added, that at least two of the actors, the first and 
the second, must be ready singers, before an exact- 
^ing audience with a delicate ear for music. Sopho- 
cles' first actor must, during an effort of ten hours, 
pronounce about 1,600 lines, and sing at least six 
greater or less song pieces/^ 

This task would be great, but not inconceivable 
to us. One of the most exacting of our roles is 
Richard III. This includes in the printed text, 1 128 
lines, of which more than 200 are usually omitted. 
Our lines are shorter, there is no song, the costume 
is much more convenient, the voice is of a different 
kind, comparatively less wearying; the effort for 
gesture, on the other hand, is incomparably greater ; 


on the whole, the creative work for the moment, 
much more significant; there is a very different 
expenditure of nervous energy. For our actors to 
compass the task of the ancients, would present no 
unconquerable difficulties, but just that which pre- 
sents itself to the inexperienced as an alleviation, the 
prolonging the work through ten hours. And if 
they set up in opposition to the actor's art of the 
ancients, with some show of justice, that their pres- 
ent task is a greater and higher one, it is performed 
not with voice alone, but with facial expression and 
gesture freely invented, yet they must not forget 
that the scantiness of Greek pantomime, which 
remained restricted through masks and conventional 
movements and attitudes, found a supplement again 
in a remarkably fine culture in dramatic enunciation. 
Old witnesses teach us that a single false tone, a sin- 
gle incorrect accent, a single hiatus in a line, could 
arouse the universal ill-will of the audience against 
the player, and rob him of his victory ; that the 
great actor was passionately admired, and that the 
Athenians, on account of the actor's art, would neg- 
lect politics and the prosecution of war. One must 
certainly not put a low value on the independent, 
creative work of the Hellenic actor ; for we do not at 
all know how creatively his soul worked in the usual 
inflections of dramatic delivery. 

Among these three actors, all the roles of the 
three tragedies and the burlesque were divided. In 
each play, the actor had, in addition to his chief 
role — in which, according to custom, he wore the 


festal costume — subordinate parts corresponding to 
his character, or for which he could be spared. 
But even in this matter the poet was not allowed 
full liberty. 

The personality of the actor on the stage 
was not so completely forgotten in his role, by 
his audience, as is the case with us. He re- 
mained in the consciousness of the Athenian, in 
spite of his various masks and changes of costume, 
always more the genial person performing, than the 
player who sought to hide himself entirely in the 
character of his role. And so in this respect, even 
at the time of Sophocles, the representation on the 
stage was more like an oratorio or the reading 
aloud of a piece, with parts assigned, than like our 
production on the stage. This is an important 
circumstance. The effects of the tragedy were not, 
for this reason, injured, but somewhat differently 

The first player was, therefore, made somewhat 
significantly conspicuous on the stage. To him 
belongs the middle door of the background — "the 
royal" — for his entrances and exits; he played the 
most distinguished persons, and the strongest char- 
acters. It would have been against his professional 
dignity to represent on the stage, anyone who 
allowed himself to be influenced or led by any other ; 
character in the piece — the gods excepted. He 
specially was the player of pathetic parts, the singer 
and hero, of course for both masculine and feminine 
roles ; his role alone gave the piece its name, in case 


he was the controlling spirit, in the action ; other- 
wise the name of the piece was taken from the cos- 
tume and character of the chorus. Next him stood 
the second contestant, as his attendant and asso- 
ciate ; over against him stood the third, a less 
esteemed actor, as character player, intriguer, repre- 
sentative of the counter-play. 

This appointment was strictly adhered to by 
Sophocles, in the preparation and distribution of 
parts. There were in his plays, the chief hero, his 
attendant, and his adversary. But the subordinate 
parts, also, which each of them must undertake, and 
which corresponded to each of the chief roles, were, 
so far as was at all possible, distributed according 
to their relations to the chief roles. The chief actor, 
himself, took the part of his representative and com- 
panion in sentiment ; the parts 'of friends and 
retainers, so far as possible, the second player took ; 
the third, or adversary, took the parts of strangers, 
enemies, opposing parties ; and in addition to these, 
sometimes with the second, he assumed further 
accessory roles. 

From all this there originated a peculiar kind of 
stage effects, which we might call inartistic, but 
which had for the Attic poet, and the Attic stage, 
not a little significance. The next duty of the actor 
was specially to indicate every one of the roles he 
assumed in a piece, by a different mask, a different 
tone of voice, a different carriage, and different ges- 
tures. And we recognize that here, too, there was 
much that had conformed to custom, and become 


established ; for example, in the make-up and deliv- 
ery of a messenger, in the step, bearing, gesture of 
young women, and of old women. But a second 
peculiarity of this established distribution of parts 
was that what was constant in the actor, became 
apparent in his individual parts, and was felt by the 
audience as something proper to himself, and effect- 
ive. The actor on the Attic stage became an ideal 
unity which held its roles together. Above the illu- 
sion that different persons were speaking, the feel- 
ing remained to the hearer, that they were one and 
the same ; and this circumstance the poet used for 
peculiar dramatic effects. When Antigone was led 
away to death, the whole excited soul of Tiresias 
rang behind the tone of voice in which his threat was 
made to Creon ; the same tone, the same spiritual 
nature in all tHe words of the messenger who 
announced the sad end of Antigone and of Haemon, 
again touched the spirit of the audience. Antigone, 
after she had gone away to death, came continually 
back to the stage. By this means there arose, some- 
times during the performance, a climax of tragic 
effects, where we, in reading, notice a bathos. When 
in Electra, the same actor presents Orestes and Cly- 
temnestra, son and mother, murderer and victim, the 
same quality of voice suggests the blood relation to 
the audience, the same cold determination and cut- 
ting sharpness of tone — it was the role of the third 
actor — suggests the inner kinship of the two natures ; 
but this sameness moderated, perhaps, the horror 
which the fearful action of the play produced. 


When, in Ajax, the hero of the piece kills himself 
at the climax, this must have been, in the eyes of 
the Greeks, a danger to the effect of the play, not 
because this circumstance in this case affected the 
unity of the action, but probably put too much of 
the weight toward the beginning. But Vv^hen, imme- 
diately afterwards, from the mask of Teucros, the 
same honest, true-hearted nature still rang in the 
voice, only more youthful, fresher, unbroken, the 
Athenian not only felt with satisfaction the blood 
relation, but the soul of Ajax took a lively part in 
the struggle continued about his grave. Particu- 
larly attractive is the way Sophocles makes use of 
this means — of course, not he alone, — to present 
effectively, in the catastrophe, the ruin of a chief char- 
acter, which can only be announced. In each of the 
four pieces, which contain the very conspicuous role 
of a messenger in the catastrophe (in the TracJiinian 
Women it is the nurse) the actor who has played the 
part of the hero whose death is announced, became 
himself the messenger, who related the affecting 
circumstances of the death, sometimes in a won- 
derfully animated speech ; to the Athenians, in such 
a case, the voice of the departed came back from 
Hades, and pierced their souls — the voice of CEdi- 
pus at Colonos, of Jocasta, of Antigone, of Deia- 
neira. In Philoctetes, the return of the same actor in 
various roles is most peculiarly prized for dramatic 
effects, — of this there will be a discussion later 

Such a heightening of the effect through a les- 


sening of the scenic illusion, is foreign to our stage, 
but not unheard of. A similar effect depends on 
the representation of women's parts by men, which 
Goethe saw in Rome. 

This peculiarity of the Attic stage gave the poet 
some liberties in the structure of the action, which 
we no longer allow. The first hero could be spared 
from his chief role during longer parts of the play 
— as in Afitigone and Ajax. When, in the Trachi- 
nian Women^ the chief hero, Hercules, does not enter 
at all till the last scene, yet he has been effective 
through his representatives from the beginning for- 
ward. The maid of the prologue, who refers to the 
absent Hercules, Lichas, his herald, who gives 
accounts of him, speak with the subdued voice of 
the hero. 

And this keeping back of the hero was frequently 
necessary to the poet as a prudent aid in concealing 
the indulgence which, before all others, the first 
actor must claim for himself. The almost super- 
human effort of a day's acting could be endured 
only when the same actor did not have the longest 
and most exacting groups of roles in all three trage- 
dies. The chief role among the Greeks, remained 
that of the protagonist, who had the dignity and the 
pathos requiring great effort, even if to this part, 
perhaps, only a single scene was given. But the poet 
was compelled, in individual pieces of the festival 
occasion, to give to the second and third actors what 
we call the chief parts, the most comprehensive 
parts ; for he must be considerate enough to make 


a somewhat even distribution of the lines of the 
three tragedies, among his three contestants." 

The plays of Sophocles which have been pre- 
served, are distinguished more by the character of 
their action than by their construction,, from the 
Germanic drama. The section of the legend, which 
Sophocles used for the action of his piece, had 
peculiar presuppositions. His plays, aS a whole, 
represent the restoration of an already disturbed 
order, revenge, penance, adjustment ; what is sup- 
posed to have preceded is also the direst disturbance, 
confusion, crime. The drama of the Germans, con- 
sidered in general, had for its premises, a certain if 
insufficient order and rest, against which the person 
of the hero arose, producing disturbance, confusion, 
crime, until he was subdued by counteracting forces, 
and a new order was restored. The action of Sopho- 
cles began somewhat later than our climax. A 
youth had in ignorance slain his father, had married 
his mother; this is the premise — how this already 
accomplished, unholy deed, this irreparable wrong 
comes to light, is the play. A sister places her 
happiness in the hope that a young brother in a 
foreign land will take vengeance upon the mother for 
the murder of the father. How she mourns and 
hopes, is terrified at the false news of his death, is 
made happy by his arrival, and learns about the 
avenging deed — this is the play. Everything of 
misfortune, of atrocity, of the guilt, of the horrible 
revenge, which preceded, yes, the horrible deed 
itself, is represented through the reflections that fall 


upon the soul of a woman, the sister of the avenger, 
the daughter of the murderess and of the murdered 
man. An unfortunate prince, driven from his home, 
gratefully communicates to the hospitable city 
which receives him the secret blessing which, 
according to an oracle, hangs over the place of his 
burial. A virgin, contrary to the command of the 
prince, buries her brother, who lies slain on the 
field ; she is therefore sentenced to death, and 
involves the son and the wife of the inexorable 
judge with herself in destruction. To a wandering 
hero, there is sent into the foreign land, by his wife 
who has heard of his infidelity, and wishes to regain 
his love, a magic garment which consumes his 
body ; on account of her grief at this, the wife kills 
herself and has her body burned.^*^ A hero, who 
through a mad delusion has slain a captured herd 
instead of the abhorred princes of his people, kills 
himself for shame ; but his associates achieve for him 
an honorable burial. A hero, who on account of an 
obstinate disease of his army, is left exposed on an un- 
inhabited island, is brought back, because an oracle, 
through those who hated him and banished him, 
has demanded his return as a means of restoring 
health to the army. What precedes the play is 
always a great part of what we must include in the 

But if from the seven plays of Sophocles which 
have been preserved, it is allowable to pass a 
guarded judgment on a hundred lost plays, this 
treatment of myths does not seem universal 


among the Greeks, but seems to distinguish Sopho- 
cles. We recognize distinctly that ^schylus in 
his trilogies considered longer portions of the 
legends — the wrong, the complication, the adjust- 
ment. Euripides sometimes exceeded the definite 
end piece of the legend, or with more convenience 
than art, announced what had preceded, in an epic 
prologue. In both of his best pieces, Hyppolitus and 
Medea, the action is built on premises, which would 
also have been possible in newer pieces. 

This order of the action in Sophocles allowed 
not only the greatest excitement of passionate feel- 
ing, but also a firm connection of characters ; but it 
excluded numerous inner changes, which are indis- 
pensable to our plays. How these monstrous prem- 
ises affected the heroes, he could represent with a 
mastery now unattainable ; but there were given 
most unusual circumstances, through which the 
heroes were influenced. The secret and ecstatic 
struggles of the inner man, v/hich impel from a 
comparative quiet, to passion and deed, despair and 
the stings of conscience, and again the violent 
changes which are produced in the sentiment and 
character of the hero himself through an awful 
deed, the stage of Sophocles did not allow to be 
represented. How any one gradually learned some- 
thing fearful little by little, how any one conducted 
himself after reaching a momentous conclusion, this 
invited picturing; but how he struggled with the 
conclusion, how the terrible calamity that pressed 
upon him, was prepared by his own doings, — this, it 


appears, was not dramatic for the stage of Sopho- 
cles. Euripides is more flexible in this, and more 
similar to us ; but in the eyes of his contemporaries, 
this was no unconditional excellence.- One of the 
most finished characters of our drama is Macbeth ; 
yet it may be well said, to the Athenians before the 
stage he would have been thoroughly intolerable, 
weak, unheroic ; what appears to us most human in 
him, and what we admire as the greatest art of the 
poet, his powerful conflict with himself over the 
awful deed, his despair, his remorse, — this would 
not have been allowed to the tragic hero of the 
Greeks. The Greeks were very sensitive to vacilla- 
tions of the will ; the greatness of their heroes 
consisted, before all, in firmness. The first actor 
would scarcely have represented a character who 
would allow himself in any matter of consequence, 
to be influenced by another character in the piece. 
Every mental disturbance of the leading persons, 
even in subordinate matters, must be carefully 
accounted for and excused. GEdipus hesitates 
about seeing his son ; Theseus makes all his repre- 
sentations of obstinacy in vain ; Antigone must first 
explain to the audience ; to listen is not to yield. 

If Philoctetes had yielded to the reasonable argu- 
ing of the second player, he would have fallen 
greatly in the regard of the audience ; he would 
have been no longer the strong hero. To be sure, 
Neoptolemus changes his relation to Philoctetes, 
and the audience was extremely heated over it; 
that he did so, however, was only a return to his 


own proper character, and he was only second 
player. We are inclined to consider Creon in 
Antigone as a grateful part ; to the Greeks he was 
only a role of third rank ; to this character, the 
justification of pathos was entirely wanting. Just 
the trait that makes him appeal to us, his being 
convulsed and entirely unstrung by Tiresias, — that 
artifice of the poet to bring a new suspense into the 
action — this lessened to the Greeks the interest in 
the character. And that the same trait in the family 
and in the play comes out once more, that Haemon, 
too, will kill his father only after the messenger's 
announcement, but then kills himself — for us a 
very characteristic and human trait — Attic criticism 
seems to have established as a reproach against the 
poet, who brought forward such undignified insta- 
bility twice in one tragedy. If ever the conversion 
of one character to the point of view of another is 
accomplished, it does not occur — except in the 
catastrophe of Ajax — during the scene in which the 
parties fight each other w^ith long or short series of 
lines ; but the change is laid behind the scenes ; the 
convert comes entirely altered, into his new situation. 
The struggle of the Greek hero was egotistic ; 
his purpose ended with his life. The position of the 
Germanic hero, with reference to his destiny, is 
therefore, very different, because to him the purpose 
of his existence, the moral import, his ideal con- 
sciousness, reaches far out beyond his individual 
life, love, honor, patriotism. The spectators bring 
with them to the Germanic play, the notion that 


the heroes of the stage are not there entirely for 
their own sake, not even specially for their own 
sake, but that just they, with their power of free self- 
direction, must serve higher purposes, let the higher 
which stands above them be conceived as Provi- 
dence, as the laws of nature, as the body politic, as 
the state. The annihilation of their life is not ruin, 
in the same sense as in the ancient tragedy. In 
CEdipus at Colonos^ the greatness of the import took 
a strong hold upon the Athenians ; they felt here 
forcibly the humanity of a life which, beyond mere 
existence, and indeed by its death, rendered a high 
service to the universal existence. From this, too, 
arises the great closing effect of The Furies. Here 
the sufferings and fate of the individual are used as 
blessings to the universal. That the greatest unfor- 
tunates of the legend^CEdipus and Orestes — pay 
so terrible a penance for their crime, appeared to the 
Greeks as a new and' sublime dignifying of man 
upon the stage, not foreign to their life, but to their 
art. The undramatic climax of pity, produced by 
practical closing results, however useful to home 
and country, leaves us moderns unmoved. But it 
is always instructive to note that the two greatest 
dramatists of the Hellenes' once raised their heroes 
to the same theory of life* in which we are accus- 
tomed to breathe and to see the heroes of our stage. 
How Sophocles fashioned his characters and his 
situations under such constraint is remarkable. 
His feeling for contrasts worked with the force of a 
power of nature, to which he himself could not 


afford resistHnce. Notice the malicious hardness of 
Athene, in Ajax. It is called out by contrast with 
the humanity of Odysseus, and shows the needed 
contrast in color with an unscrupulous sharpness, 
whereby naturally the goddess comes short of her- 
self, because she will sagaciously illuminate with 
her divinity the shadowing of her nature, which is 
like Menelaus's. The same piece gives in every 
scene a good insight into the manner of his crea- 
tion, which is so spontaneous, and withal so powerful 
in effects, so carelessly sovereign, that we easily 
understand how the Greeks found in it something di- 
vine. Everywhere here, one mood summons another, 
one character another, exact, pure, certain ; each 
color, each melody, forces forward another corre- 
sponding to it. The climax of the piece is the 
frame of mind of Ajax after the awakening. How 
nobly and humanly the poet feels the nature of the 
man under the adventurous presuppositions of the 
piece ! The warm-hearted, honest, hot-headed hero, 
the ennobled Berlichingen of the Greek army, had 
been several times churlish toward the gods ; then 
misfortune came upon him. The convulsing despair 
of a magnificent nature, which is broken by disgrace 
and shame, the touching concealment of his deter- 
mination to die, and the restrained pathos of a 
warrior, who by voluntary choice performs his last 
act, — these were the three movements in the char- 
acter of the first hero which gave the poet the three 
great scenes, and the requirements for the entire 
piece. First, as contrast with the prologue, the pic- 


ture of Ajax himself. Here he is still a monster, 
stupid as if half asleep. He is the complete oppo- 
site of the awakened Ajax, immediately the embodi- 
ment of shrewdness. The situation was as ridiculous 
on the stage as it was dismal ; the poet guarded 
himself, indeed, from wishing to make anything 
different out of it. Both counter-players must 
accommodate themselves to the depressing con- 
straint. Odysseus receives a slight tinge of this 
ridiculous element, and Athene receives the cold, 
scornful hardness. It is exactly the right color, 
which was needed by what was being represented, a 
contrast developed with unscrupulous severity, 
created, not by cold calculation, not through uncon- 
scious feeling, but as a great poet creates, with a 
certain natural necessity, yet with perfect, free 

In the same dependence upon the chief heroes, 
the collective roles are fashioned, according to the 
conditions under which the Greek composed for 
each of the three actors ; associate player, accessory 
player, counter-player. In Ajax for instance, there 
was the "other self" of Ajax, the true, dutiful 
brother Teucros ; then, there were the second roles, 
his wife, the booty of his spear, Tecmessa, loving, 
anxious, well knowing, however, how to oppose the 
hero ; and there was his friendly rival, Odysseus ; 
finally, the enemies, again three degrees of hate ; 
the goddess, the hostile partisan, and his more pru- 
dent brother, whose hatred was under control out of 
regard for policy. When, in the last scene, the 


counter-player and the hostile friend of the hero 
were reconciled at the grave, from the compact 
which they made, the Athenian would recognize 
very distinctly the opposite of the opening scene, 
where the same voices had taken sides against the 

Within the individual characters of Sophocles, 
also, the unusual purity and power of his feeling for 
harmony, and the same creation in contrasts, are 
admirable. He perceived here surely and with no 
mistake, what could be effective in them, and what 
was not allowable. The heroes of the epic and of 
the legend, resist violently, being changed into 
dramatic characters : they brook only a certain 
measure of inner life and human freedom ; whoever 
will endow them with more, from him they snatch 
away and tear into shreds the loose web of their 
myths — barbarous on the stage. The wise poet of 
the Greeks recognizes very well the inward hard- 
ness and untamableness of the forms which he must 
transform into characters. Therefore, he takes as 
little as possible from the legend itself into the 
drama. He finds, however, a very simple and com- 
prehensible outline of its essential characteristic as 
his action needs it, and he always makes the best 
of this one peculiarity of character, with peculiar 
strictness and logical congruity. This determining 
trait is always one impelling toward a deed : pride, 
hate, connubial sense of duty, official zeal. And the 
poet conducts his characters in no way like a mild 
commander ; he exacts from them according to 


their disposition, what is boldest, and most extreme ; 
he is so insatiably hard and pitiless, that to us weaker 
beings, a feeling of real horror comes, on account 
of the fearful one-sidedness into which he has them 
plunge ; and that even the Athenians compared such 
effects to the loosing of bloodhounds. The defiant 
sisterly love of Antigone, the mortally wounded 
pride of Ajax, the exasperation of the tormented 
Philoctetes, the hatred of Electra, are forced out in 
austere and progressive intensity, and placed in the 
deadly conflict. 

But over against this groundwork of the charac- 
ters, he perceives again with marvellous beauty 
and certainty just the corresponding gentle and 
friendly quality which is possible to his characters, 
with their peculiar harshness. Again, this contrast 
appears in his heroes, with the power of the required 
complementary color ; and this second and opposite 
quality of his persons — almost always the gentle, 
cordial, touching side of their nature, love opposed 
to hate, fidelity to friends opposed to treachery, 
honest candor against sheer irascibility — is almost 
always adorned with the most beautiful poetry, the 
most delicate brilliancy of color. Ajax, who would 
have slain his foes in mad hatred, displays an 
unusual strength of family affection, true-hearted, 
deep, intense love toward his companions, toward 
the distant brother, toward the child, toward his wife; 
Electra, who almost lives upon her hatred of her 
mother, clings with the gentlest expressions of 
tenderness about the neck of her longed-for brother. 


The tortured Philoctetes, crying out in pain and 
anguish, demanding the sword that he may hew 
asunder his own joints, looks up, helpless, grateful, 
and resigned, to the benevolent youth who can behold 
the odious suffering and give no expression to his 
horror. Only the chief characters exhibit this un- 
folding of their powerfully conceived unity, in two 
opposite directions ; the accessory persons, as a rule 
show only the required supplementary colors ; Creon 
thrice, Odysseus twice, both in each of their pieces 
differently shaded off, Ismene, Theseus, Orestes. 

Such a uniting of two contrast colors in one 
chief character was possible to the Greek only 
because he was a great poet and student of human 
nature ; that is, because his creative soul perceived 
distinctly the deepest roots of a human existence, 
from which these two opposite leaves of his charac- 
ters grew. And this exact observation of the germ 
of every human life is the highest prerogative of 
the poet, which causes the simple bringing out of 
two opposite colors in character to produce the 
beautiful appearance of wealth, of fulness, of sym- 
metry. It is an enchanting illusion, in which he 
knows how to place his hearers ; it gives his pictures 
exactly the kind of life which has been possible in 
his material on the stage. With us, the characters 
of the great poets show much more artistic fashion- 
ing than those ancient ones, which grew up so 
simply, leaf opposite to leaf, from the root ; Hamlet, 
Faust, Romeo, Wallenstein, cannot be traced back 
to so simple an original form. And they are, of 


course, the evidence of a higher degree of develop- 
ment of humanity. But on this account, the figures 
of Sophocles are not at all less admirable and 
enchanting. For he knows how to design them 
with simplicity, but with a nobility of sentiment, and 
fashion them in a beauty and grandeur of outline 
that excited astonishment even in ancient times. 
Nowhere are loftiness and power wanting in either 
chief characters or accessory characters ; every- 
where is seen from their bearing, the insight and 
unrestrained master-power of a great poet nature. 

^schylus embodied in the characters of the 
stage a single characteristic feature, which made 
their individuality intelligible ; in Prometheus, Cly- 
temnestra, Agamemnon, Sophocles intensified his 
great roles, while he attributed to them two appar- 
ently contradictory qualities, which were in reality 
requisite and supplementary ; when Euripides went 
further, and created pictures imitating reality, which 
were like living beings, the threads of the old 
material flew asunder, and curled up like the dyed 
cloth of Deianeira in the sunlight. 

This same joyousness, and the sure perception 
of contrasts, allowed the poet, Sophocles, also to 
overcome the difficulty which his choice of fables 
prepared for him. The numerous and monstrous 
premises of his plot seemed peculiarly unfavora- 
ble to a powerful action proceeding from the hero 
himself. In the last hours of its calamity, tt 
appears, the heroes are almost always suffering, not 
freely acting. But the greater the pressure the poet 


lays upon them from without, so much higher the 
power becomes with which they battle against it. 
Whatever already in the first ascending half of the 
piece, fate or a strange power works against the 
hero, he does not appear as receiving it, but as 
thrusting his whole being emphatically against it. 
He is, in truth, impelled ; but he appears in a dis- 
tinctive manner to be the impelling force ; thus 
CEdipus, Electra, even Philoctetes, taken together, 
are efficient natures, which rage, impel, advance. If 
any one ever stood in a position of defence dan- 
gerous to a play, it was poor King CEdipus. Let it 
be observed how Sophocles represents him, as far as 
the climax, fighting in increasing excitement, against 
opposition ; the more dismal his cause becomes 
to himself, so much the more violently does he beat 
against his environment. 

These are some of the conditions under which 
the poet created his action. If the plays of Sopho- 
cles together with the chorus, claimed about the 
same time as our plays, on the average, require, yet 
the action is much shorter than ours. For aside 
from the chorus, and from the lyric and epic parts 
inserted, the whole design of the scenes is greater 
and, on the whole, broader. The action, according 
to our way of presenting, would scarcely occupy 
half an evening. The transitions from scene to 
scene are short, but accurately motived ; entrance 
and exit of new roles are explained, little connect- 
ing parts between elaborate scenes are infrequent. 
The number of divisions was not uniform ; only in 


the later time of the ancient tragedy was the divi- 
sion into five acts established. The different parts 
of the action were separated by choral songs. Every 
one of such parts, — as a rule, corresponding to our 
finished scene — was distinguished from the one pre- 
ceding it, by its meaning, but not so sharply as our 
acts. It appears, almost, that the single pieces of 
the day — not the parts of a piece — were separated 
by a curtain drawn across the stage. Indeed, the 
tableau in the beginning of QEdipus may be explained 
otherwise ; but since the decoration of Sophocles 
already plays a part in the piece — and he was as 
fond of referring to this as yEschylus was to his 
chariot and flying machine — its fastenings must have 
been taken from the view of the spectator before the 
beginning of a new piece. 

Another characteristic of Sophocles, so far as it 
is recognizable to us, lies in the symmetrical propor- 
tions of his piece. 

, The introduction and the conclusion of the old 
drama were set off from the rest of the structure, 
much more markedly than at present. The intro- 
duction was called the prologue ; embraced one 
appearance or more of the solo-players, before the 
first entrance of the chorus; contained all the essen- 
tials of the exposition; and was separated by a choral 
song from the rising action. The conclusion, exodus, 
likewise separated from the falling action by a choral 
song, was composed of scene-groups, carefully 
worked out, and included the part of the action 
which we moderns call the catastrophe. In Sopho- 


cles, the prologue is, in all the plays preserved, an 
artfully constructed dialogue scene, with a not insig- 
nificant movement, in which two, sometimes all 
three, actors appear and show their relation to each 
other. It contains, first, the general premises of the 
piece, and second, what appears to be peculiar to 
Sophocles, a specially impressive introduction of the 
exciting force which shall impel the action, after the 
choral song. 

The first choral song follows the prologue ; after 
this comes the action with the entrance of the first 
excitement. From here the action rises in two or 
more stages to the climax. There are in Sophocles, 
sometimes, very fine motives, insignificant in them- 
selves, which occasion this ascent. The summit of the 
action arises mightily; for bringing out this moment, 
the poet uses all the splendor of color, and all the 
sublimest poetic fervor. And when the action allows 
of a broad turn, the scene of this turn, revolution, or 
recognition, follows not suddenly and unexpectedly, 
but with fine transition, and always in artistic finish. 
From here, the action plunges swiftly to the end, 
only occasionally, before the exodus, a slight pause, 
or level, is arranged. The catastrophe itself is com- 
posed like a peculiar action ; it consists not of a 
single scene, but of a group of scenes, — the brilliant 
messenger part, the dramatic action, and sometimes 
lyric pathos scenes, lie in it, connected by slight 
transition scenes. The catastrophe has not the same 
power, in all the plays, nor is it treated with effects 
of progressive intensity. The relation of the piece 


to the others of the same day may, also, have con- 
trolled the work of the conclusion. 

The play of A?Ltigo?ie contains — besides prologue 
and catastrophe — five parts, of which the first three 
form the rising movement ; the fourth, the climax ; 
the fifth, the return. Each of these parts, separated 
from the others by a choral song, embraces a scene 
of two divisions. The idea of the piece is as fol- 
lows : A maiden, who contrary to the command of 
the king, buries her brother, slain in a battle against 
his native city, is sentenced to death by the king. 
The king, on this account, loses his son and his con- 
sort, by self-inflicted death. In a dialogue scene, 
which affords a contrast between the heroine and 
her friendly helpers, the prologue explains the basis 
of the action, and makes an exposition of the excit- 
ing force, — the resolution of Antigone to bury her 
brother. The first step of the ascent is, after the 
introduction of Creon, the message that Polynices 
is secretly buried, the wrath of Creon, and his com- 
mand to find the perpetrator of the deed. The 
second -step is the introduction of Antigone, who has 
been seized, the expression of her resistance to 
Creon, and the intrusion of Ismene, who declares 
that she is an accomplice of Antigone and will die 
with her. The third step is the entreaty of Haemon, 
and when Creon remains inexorable, the despair of 
the lover. The messenger scene has been followed 
so far by dialogue scenes, continually increasing in 
excitement. The pathos scene of Antigone, song 
and recitation, forms the climax. This is followed 


by Creon's command to lead her away to death. 
From this point the action falls rapidly. The pro- 
phet, Tiresias, announces calamity awaiting Creon, 
and punishes his obstinacy. Creon is softened, and 
gives orders that Antigone be released from the burial 
vault where she is imprisoned. And now begins the 
catastrophe, in a great scene-group ; announcement 
by messenger of Antigone's death, and Haemon's, 
the despairing departure of Eurydice, the lament of 
Creon, another message, announcing the death of 
Eurydice, and the concluding lament of Creon. The 
continuance of Antigone herself is the seer, Tiresias, 
and the messenger of the catastrophe ; the friendly 
accessory players are Ismene and Hsemon ; the coun- 
ter-player, with less power and with no pathos, is 
Creon. Eurydice is only an assisting role. 

The most artistic play of Sophocles is King (Edi- 
pus. It possesses all the fine inventions of the Attic 
drama, besides variations in songs and chorus, revo- 
lution scene, recognition scene, pathos scene, finished 
announcement of the messenger at the close. The 
action is governed by the counter-play, has a short 
ascent, comparatively weak climax, and a long 
descent. The prologue brings out all three actors, 
and announces, besides the presupposed conditions, 
Thebes under CEdipus during a plague, the exciting 
force, an oracular utterance, — that Laius's murder 
shall be avenged, and with this the city shall be 
delivered from the pestilence. From here the action 
rises by two steps. First, Tiresias, called by CEdi- 
pus, hesitates to interpret the oracle ; rendered sus- 


picious by the violent Gidipus, he hints in ambigu- 
ous, enigmatical terms, at the mysterious murderer, 
and departs in wrath. Second step, strife of CEdi- 
pus with Creon, separated by Jocasta. After this, 
climax ; interview of CEdipus and Jocasta. Jocasta's 
account of the death of Laius, and CEdipus's words, 
**0 woman, how, at your words, a sudden terror 
seizes me !" are the highest point of the action. Up 
to this passage, CEdipus has summoned up a violent 
resistance to the crowding conjectures ; although he 
has been gradually growing anxious, now the feeling 
of an infinite danger falls upon his soul. His role 
is the conflict between defiant self-consciousness and 
unfathomable self-contempt ; in this place the first 
ends, the second begins. From here the action goes 
again in two steps downward, with magnificent 
execution ; the suspense is increased by the counter- 
play of Jocasta ; for what gives her the fearful cer- 
tainty once more deceive QEdipiis ; the. effects of 
the recognitions are here masterfully treated. The 
catastrophe has three divisions, messenger scene, 
pathos scene, closing with a soft and reconciling 

On the other hand, Electra has a very simple 
construction. It consists — besides prologue and 
catastrophe — of two stages of the ascent and two 
of the fall ; of these, the two standing nearest the 
climax are united with this into a great scene-group, 
which makes specially conspicuous the middle point 
of the play. The play contains not only the strongest 
dramatic effect which we have received from Soph- 


ocles, but it is also, for other reasons, very instruc- 
tive, because in comparing it with the. Lib atiofi Pour ers 
of ifischylus and the Electra of Euripides, which treat 
the same material, we recognize distinctly how the 
poets prepared for themselves, one after another, 
the celebrated legend. In Sophocles, Orestes, the 
central point of two pieces in ^schylus's trilogy, 
is treated entirely as an accessory figure ; he per- 
forms the monstrous deed of vengeance by com- 
mand of and as the tool of Apollo, deliberate, 
composed, with no trace of doubt or vacillation, 
like a warrior who has set out upon a dangerous 
undertaking ; and only the catastrophe represents 
this chief part of the old subject dramatically. 
What the piece presents is the mental perturbations 
of an extremely energetic and magnificent female 
character, but shaped for the requirements of the 
stage in a most striking manner, by changes in feel- 
ing, through will and deed. In the prologue, Orestes 
and his warden give the introduction and the expo- 
sition of the exciting force (arrival of the avengers), 
which works at first in the action as a dream and 
presentiment of Clytemnestra. The first stage of the 
rising action follows this : Electra receives from 
Chrysothemis the news that she, the ever-complain- 
ing one, will be put into prison ; she persuades 
Chrysothemis not to pour upon the grave of the 
murdered father the expiating libation which the 
mother has sent. Second stage : Conflict of Electra 
and Clytemnestra, then climax ; the warden brings 
the false report of the death of Or-estes ; different 


effect of this news on the two women ; pathos scene 
of Electra added to this, the first step of the 
return. Chrysothemis returns joyfully from her 
father's grave, announces that she found a strange 
lock of hair, as a pious benediction there ; a friend 
must be near. Electra no longer believes the good 
news, challenges the sister to unite with herself and 
kill ^gisthos, rages against the resisting Chryso- 
themis, and resolves to perform the deed alone. 
Second stage : Orestes as a stranger, with the urn 
containing Orestes's ashes ; mourning of Electra, 
and recognition scene of enrapturing beauty. The 
exodus contains the representation of the avenging 
deed, first in the fearful mental convulsions of Elec- 
tra, then the entrance of ^gisthos and his death. 
What is contained in (Edipus at Colo?ws appears, 
if one considers the idea of the piece, extremely 
unfavorable for dramatic treatment. That an old 
man, wandering about the country, should bestow 
the blessing which, according to an oracle, was to 
hang over his grave, not upon his ungrateful native 
city, but upon hospitable strangers — such a subject 
seems to the casual patriotic feeling of an audience, 
rather offensive. And yet Sophocles has under- 
stood how to charge even this with suspense, pro- 
gressive elevation, passionate strife between hatred 
and love. But the piece has a peculiarity of con- 
struction. The prologue is expanded into a greater 
whole, which in its extreme compass corresponds 
to the catastrophe ; it consists of two parts, each 
composed of three little scenes, connected by a 


pathetic moment of alternating song between the 
solo players and the chorus, which enters at this 
unusually early point. The first part of the pro- 
logue contains the exposition, the second scene the 
exciting force — the news which Ismene brings the 
venerable GEdipus, that he is pursued by those of 
his native city, Thebes. From here the action rises 
through a single stage — Theseus, lord of the land, 
appears, offers his protection — to the climax, a 
great conflict scene with powerful movement. 
Creon enters, drags away the daughters by force, 
threatening CEdipus himself with violence, in order 
that he shall return home ; but Theseus maintains 
his protecting power and sends Creon away. Here- 
upon follows the return action, in two stages : The 
daughters, rescued by Theseus, are brought back to 
the old man ; Polynices, for his own selfish ends, 
entreats reconciliation with his father, and his 
father's return. QEdipus dismisses him unrecon- 
ciled ; Antigone expresses in touching words the 
fidelity of a .sister. Then follows the catastrophe ; 
the mysterif^us snatching away of CEdipus, a short 
oration scene and chorus, then grand messenger 
scene and concluding song. By the expansion of 
the prologue and the catastrophe, this piece becomes 
about three hundred lines longer than the other 
plays of this writer. The freer treatment of the 
permanent scene-forms, like the contents of the 
play, lets us perceive what we also know from old 
accounts, that this tragedy was one of the last 
works of the venerable poet. 


Perhaps the earliest of the plays of Sophocles 
which have come down to us is The Trachi?tia?i 
Women. Here, too, is something striking in con- 
struction. The prologue contains only the intro- 
duction, anxiety of the wife, Deianeira, for Hercules 
remaining far away from home, and the sending of 
the son, Hyllos, to seek the father. The exciting 
force lies in the piece itself, and forms the first half 
of the rising action, of two parts : first, arrival of 
Hercules ; second, Deianeira's discovery that the 
female captive slave whom her husband had sent in 
advance, was his mistress. Climax: In her honest 
heart, Deianeira resolves to send to the beloved man 
a love-charm which a foe whom he had slain had 
left her. She delivers the magic garment to the 
care of a herald. The falling action, in a single 
stage, announces her anxiety and regret at sending 
the garment ; she has learned by an experiment 
that there is something unearthly in the magic. 
The returning son tells her in heartless words, that 
the present has brought upon the husband a fatal 
illness. Here follows the catastroph^i^lso in two 
parts ; first, a messenger scene which announces the 
death of Deianeira ; then Hercules himself, the 
chief hero of the piece, is brought forward, suffer- 
ing mortal pain, as after a great pathos scene, he 
demands of his son the burning of his body on 
Mount CEta. 

The tragedy, Ajax, contains after the prologue 
in three parts, a rising movement in three stages ; 
first, the lament and family affection of Ajax, — and 


his determination to die ; then the veiling of his 
plan, out of regard for the sadness which it would 
cause his friends ; finally, without our perceiving a 
change of scene, an announcement by messenger, 
that to-day Ajax will not come out of his tent, and 
the departure of his wife and the chorus to seek the 
absent hero. Hereupon follows the climax — the 
pathos scene of Ajax and his suicide, especially dis- 
tinguished by this, that the chorus has previously 
left the orchestra, so that the scene presents the 
character of a monologue. Now comes the return 
action in three parts ; first, the discovery of the 
dead man, lament of Tecmessa and of Teucros, who 
now enters ; then the conflict between Teucros and 
Menelaus, who will forbid the burial. The catas- 
trophe at last, an intensifying of this strife in a dia- 
logue scene between Teucros and Agamemnon, the 
mediation of Odysseus, and the reconciliation. 

Philoctctcs is noticeable for its particularly regular 
form ; the action rises and falls in beautiful propor- 
tion. After a dialogue scene between Odysseus 
and Neoptolemus in the prologue has made clear 
the premises and the exciting force, the first part 
follows, the ascent, in a group of three connected 
scenes ; after this come the climax and the tragic 
force in two scenes, of which the first is a two-part 
pathos scene splendidly finished ; then the third, the 
return action, corresponding exactly to the first, 
again in a group of three connected scenes. Just 
as perfectly, the choruses correspond to each other. 
The first song is an alternating song between the 


second actor and the chorus ; the third, just such 
an alternating song between the first actor and the 
chorus. Only in the middle stands a full choral 
song. The resolution of the chorus into a dramat- 
ically excited play in concert — not only in Philoc- 
tetes but in (Edipus — is not an accident. It may be 
concluded from the firm command of form, and the 
masterly conduct of the scenes, that this drama 
belongs to the later time of Sophocles." 

Here, also, the first actor, Philoctetes, has the 
pathetic role. His violent agitation, represented 
with marvellous beauty and in rich detail, goes 
through a wide circle of moods, and arises in the 
climax, the great pathos scene of the play, with 
soul- convulsing power. The circumstance of hor- 
rible physical suffering, so important to the drama, 
and immediately following, soul-devouring mental 
anguish, have never been delineated so boldly and 
so magnificently. But the honest, embittered, ob- 
stinate man affords no opportunity to the action 
itself for dramatic movement. This, therefore, is 
placed in the soul of the second actor, and Neop- 
tolemus is leader of the action. After he has, in the 
prologue, not without reluctance, acceded to the 
wily counsels of Odysseus, he attempts in the first 
part of the action to lead Philoctetes forward by 
deception. Philoctetes confidently leans for sup- 
port upon him as the helper who promises to 
bring him into his own land ; and he delivers to this 
helper the sacred bow. But the sight of the sick 
man's severe sufferings, the touching gratitude of 


Philoctetcs for the humanity which is shown him, 
arouse the nobler feelings of the son of Achilles ; 
and with an inward struggle, he confesses to the sick 
man his purpose of taking him with his bow to the 
Greek army. The reproaches of the disappointed 
Philoctetes increase the other's remorse, and his 
excitement is still further augmented when Odys- 
seus, hastening by, has Philoctetes seized by vio- 
lence. At the beginning of the catastrophe, the 
honesty of Neoptolemus is in strife against Odys- 
seus himself ; he gives back to Philoctetes the 
deadly bow, summons him once more to follow to 
the army ; and, as Philoctetes refuses, promises him 
once more what he falsely promised at the begin 
ning of the play ; now his achievement must be to 
defy the hatred of the whole Greek army, and lead 
the suffering man and his ship home. Thus, through 
the transformations in the character of the hero 
who directs the action, this is concluded dramatically, 
but in direct opposition to the popular tradition ; 
and in order to bring the unchanging material of the 
piece into harmony with the dramatic life of the 
play, Sophocles has seized upon a device which is 
nowhere else found in his plays ; he has the image 
of Hercules appear in the closing scene and un- 
settle the resolution of Philoctetes. This conclu- 
sion, according to our sense of fitness, an excrescence, 
is still instructive in two directions : it shows how 
even Sophocles was restricted by the epic rigor of 
a traditional myth, and how his high talent strug- 
gled against dangers upon which, shortly after his 


time, the old tragedy was to be wrecked. Further, 
he gives us instruction concerning the means by 
v/hich a wise poet might overcome the disadvantage 
of an apparition out of keeping, not with our feel- 
ing, but with the sensibility of his spectators. He 
pacified his artistic conscience first of all by pre- 
viously concluding the inner dramatic movement 
entirely. So far as the piece plays between Neop- 
tolemus and Philoctetes, it is at an end. After a 
violent conflict, the two heroes have nobly come to 
a mutual agreement. But they have arrived at a 
point against which both the oracle and the advant- 
age of the Grecian army offer objections. The 
third actor, the wily, unscrupulous statesman, Odys- 
seus, now represents the highest interest. With the 
fondness which Sophocles also elsewhere shows for 
even his third man, he has here specially dignified 
that personage. After the counter-player has in 
the prologue agreeably expressed the well-known 
character of Odysseus, the latter appears immedi- 
ately in a disguise in which the spectator not only 
knows in advance that the strange figure is a shrewd 
invention of Odysseus, but also recognizes the voice 
of Odysseus and his sly behavior. Three times more 
he appears as Odysseus in the action, in order to 
point to the necessity of the seizure as an advantage 
of the whole ; his opposition becomes continually 
bolder and more emphatic. At last, in the catas- 
trophe, shortly before the divine hero becomes 
visible on high, the warning voice of Odysseus 
rings out ; his form, apparently protected by the 


rock, appears in order once more to express oppo- 
sition ; and this time his threatening cry is sharp 
and conscious of victory. When, only a short time 
afterwards, perhaps above the same spot where 
Odysseus's figure was seen for a moment, the trans- 
figured form of Hercules is visible, and again with 
the voice of the third actor, makes the same de- 
mand in a mild and reconciling tone, Hercules 
himself appears to the spectator as an intensifying 
of Odysseus ; and in this last repetition of the same 
command, the spectator perceived nothing new en- 
tering from without ; but rather he perceived more 
vividly the irresistible power of the keen human 
intelligence which had struggled through the entire 
play against the impassioned confusion of the other 
actor. The prudence and calculation of this inten- 
sification, the spiritual unity of the three roles of 
the third actor, were confidently believed by the 
audience to be a beauty of the piece. 



That enjoyment of exhibitions, the representa- 
tion of unusual occurrences by acting on the stage, 
governed the beginnings of the Germanic drama, is 
still recognized by the works of higher art as well as 
by the inclination of the public, and most of all by 
the first attempts of our dramatic poets. 

Shakespeare filled with dramatic life the old cus- 
toms of a play-loving people ; from a loosely woven 


narrative, he created an artistic drama. But even 
up to his time and that of his romantic contempo- 
raries, there shot across nearly two thousand years 
some brilliant rays from the splendid time of the 
Attic theater. 

To him also, the arrangement of a piece depended 
on the construction of his stage. This had, even 
in his later time, scarcely side curtains and a sim- 
ple scaffolding in the rear, which formed a smaller 
raised stage, with pillars at the sides, and a bal- 
cony above, from which steps led to the front stage 
below. The chief stage had no drop curtain; the 
divisions of the piece could be separated only by 
pauses ; there were, therefore, fewer divisions than 
with us now. It was not possible, as it is on our 
stage, to begin in the midst of a situation, nor to 
leave it incomplete. In Shakespeare's plays, all the 
players must enter before they could address the 
audience, and they must all make their exit before the 
eyes of the audience ; even the dead must thus be 
borne off in an appropriate manner. Only the inner 
stage was concealed behind curtains, which could be 
drawn apart and drawn together without trouble, and 
denote a convenient change of scene. First, the front 
space was the street, — on which, for instance, Romeo 
and his companions entered in masks ; when they 
had departed, the curtains were drawn apart, and 
there was the guest-room of the Capulets, as indi- 
cated by the servants in attendance. Capulet came 
forward from the middle of the background and 
greeted his friends ; his company poured in upon 


the stage, and spread about the foreground. When 
the guests had departed, the middle curtain was 
drawn behind Juliet and the nurse, and the stage 
became a street again, from which Romeo slipped 
behind the curtain to be out of sight of his boister- 
ous friends who were calling him. When these 
were gone, Juliet appeared on the balcony, the stage 
became a garden, Romeo appeared, ^^and so on. 
Everything must be more in motion, lighter, quicker 
changing of scene-groups, a more rapid coming and 
going, a more nimble play, a closer concentration 
of the aggregate impression. Attention is called to 
this oft discussed arrangement of the stage, be- 
cause this dispensing with changes of scenes, this 
former accustoming of the spectator to make every 
transition of place and time with his own active 
fancy, exerted a decided influence on Shakespeare's 
manner of dividing his plays. The number of the 
smaller divisions could be greater than with us, 
because they disturbed the whole less ; sometimes 
little scenes were inserted with no trouble at all. 
What seems to us a breaking up of the action, was 
less perceptible on account of the technical arrange- 

Moreover, Shakespeare's audience, accustomed 
to the spectacular from former times, had a prefer- 
ence for such plays as presented great numbers of 
men in violent commotion. Processions, battles, 
scenes full of figures, were preferably seen and be- 
longed, notwithstanding the scanty equipment which 
on the whole the spectacular drama of the time pos- 


sessed, to the cherished additions of a play. Like 
the Englishmen of that time, Shakespeare's heroes 
are fond of conipany. They like to appear with a 
train of attendants, and talk confidentially in unre- 
strained conversation about the important relations 
of their lives, on the market place and on the 

In Shakespeare's time, still, the actor must assume 
several roles ; but his task now was to conceal his 
own distinctive personality entirely, and clothe beau- 
tiful truth with the appearance of reality. Only 
the parts of women, which were still played by 
men, preserved something of the ancient character 
of stage play, which made the spectator a confidant 
in the illusion which was to be produced. 

Upon such a stage appeared Germanic dramatic 
art in its first and most beautiful bloom. Shakes- 
peare's technique is the same, in essential respects, 
that we still strive to attain. And he has, on the 
whole, established the form and construction of our 
pieces. In the following pages the discussion must 
recur to him continually ; therefore, in this place, 
only a few of the characteristics of his time and of 
his manner, which we can no longer imitate, will 
be mentioned. 

In the first place, the change of his scenes is too 
frequent for our stage ; above all, the little side 
scenes are disturbing. Where he binds together a 
nyimber of scenes, we must form the corresponding 
part of the action into a single scene. When, for 
example, in Coriolanus, the dark figure of Aufidius 


or of another Volscian appears from the first act 
forward in short scenes, in order to indicate the 
counter-play, up to the second half of the piece 
where this presses powerfully to the front, we are 
entirely at a loss, on our stage, to make these fleet- 
ing forces effective, with the exception of the battle 
scene in the beginning of the rising action. But 
we are obliged to compose the scenes more strictly 
for the chief heroes and represent their emotions 
and movements in a smaller number of situations, 
and therefore with fuller elaboration. 

In Shakespeare we admire the mighty power 
with which, after a brief introduction, he throws 
excitement in the way of his heroes and impels 
them swiftly in rapid upward stages to a momentous i 

height. His method of leading the action and the \ 

characters beyond the climax, in the first half of the 
play, may also serve as a model to us. And in the 
second half, the catastrophe itself is planned with 
the sureness and scope of genius, with no attempt 
at overwhelming effect, without apparent effort, 
with concise execution, a consequence of the play, 
following as a matter of course. But the great poet 
does not always have success with the forces of the 
falling action, between climax and catastrophe, the 
part which fills about the fourth act of our plays. In 
this important place, he seems too much restrained 
by the customs of his stage. In many of the great- 
est dramas of his artistic time, the action is divided / 
up, in this part, into several little scenes, which have h 
an episodical character and are inserted only to 


make the connection clear. The inner conditions 
of the hero are concealed, the heightening of effects 
and the concentration so necessary here fails. It 
is so in Hamlet, in King Lear, in Macbeth, somewhat 
so in Antony and Cleopatra. Even in Julius CcBsar, 
the return action contains, indeed, that splendid 
quarrel scene and the reconciliation between Brutus 
and Cassius, and the appearance of the ghost ; but 
what follows is again much divided, fragmentary. 
In Richard III., \h& falling action is indeed drawn 
together into several great impulses ; but yet these 
do not in a sufficient degree correspond in stage 
effect to the immense power of the first part. 

We explain this characteristic of Shakespeare 
from a relic of the old custom of telling the story 
on the stage by means of speech and responsive 
speech. As the dark suspicion against the king 
works upon Hamlet ; as Macbeth struggles with the 
idea of murder ; as Lear is continually plunged 
deeper into misery ; as Richard strides from one 
crime to another, — this must be represented in the 
first half of the drama. The ego, the self of the 
hero, which strives to achieve its design, here con- 
centrates almost the entire interest in itself. But 
from this point on, where the will has become deed, 
or where the impassioned embarrassment of the 
hero has reached the highest degree, where the 
consequences of what has happened are at work 
and the victory of the counter-play begins, the sig- 
nificance of the opponent becomes, of course, 
greater. As soon as Macbeth has murdered the 


king and Banquo, the poet must turn the efforts of 
the murderous despot toward other men and events ; 
other opponents must bring the conflict with him to 
an end. When Coriolanus is banished from Rome, 
he must be brought forward in new relations and 
with new purposes. When Lear flies about as a 
deranged beggar, the piece must either close, a 
thing which is not possible without something fur- 
ther, or the remaining persons must make apparent 
new uses of his terrible fate. 

It is also natural that from the climax downward, 
a greater number of new motives, perhaps, too, of 
new persons, may be introduced into the piece ; it is 
further natural that this play of the opposing party 
must set forth the influences which are exerted upon 
the hero from without, and therefore makes neces- 
sary more external action and a broader elaboration 
of the engrossing moment. And it is also not at 
all surprising that Shakespeare right here yielded 
more to curiosity and to the very convenient scene- 
connection of his time than is allowable on our 

But it is not this alone. Sometimes one can not 
repel the feeling that the poet's ardor for his heroes 
is lessened in the second part. It is certainly not 
so in Romeo and Juliet. In the return action, Romeo, 
indeed, is concealed ; but the poet's darling, Juliet, 
is so much the more powerfully delineated. It is 
not so in Coriolanus, where the two most beautiful 
scenes of the play, that in the house of Aufidius, 
and the grand scene with the hero's mother, lie in the 


return action. But it is strikingly so in King Lear. 
Wha4: follows the hovel scene is only an episode or 
a divided narrative in dialogue, with insufficient 
effect ; the second mad scene of Lear is also no 
intensifying of the first. Similarly in Macbeth, 
after the frightful banquet scene, the poet is through 
with the inner life of his hero. The finished witch 
scene, the prophesying, the dreary episode in Mac- 
duff's house, — few attractive figures of the coun- 
ter-play fill this part, in an arrangement of scenes 
which we may not imitate ; and only occasionally 
the great power of the poet blazes up, as in the 
catastrophe of Lady Macbeth. 

Manifestly, it is his greatest joy, to fashion from 
the most secret depths of human nature, a will and 
a deed. In this he is inexhaustibly rich, profound, 
and powerful. No other poet equals him. If he 
has once rendered his hero this service, if he has 
represented the spiritual processes culminating in 
a portentous deed, then the counter-influence of the 
world, the later destiny of the hero, does not fill him 
with the same interest. 

Even in Hamlet, there is a noticeable weakness in 
the return action. The tragedy was probably 
worked over several times by the poet; it was 
apparently a favorite subject ; he has mysteriously 
infused into it the most thoughtful and penetrating 
poetry. But these workings-over at long intervals 
have taken from the play the beautiful proportion, 
which is only possible in a simultaneous moulding 
of all parts. Hamlet is, of course, no precipitate of 


poetic moods from half a human life, like Faust; 
but breaks, gaps, little contradictions Jn tone and 
speech, between characters and action, remained 
ineffaceable to the poet. That Shakespeare worked 
out the character of Hamlet so fondly, and intensi- 
fied it till beyond the climax, makes the contrast in 
the second half only so much the greater ; indeed, 
the character itself receives something iridescent 
and ambiguous, from the fact that deeper and more 
spirited motives were introduced into the texture of 
the rising action. Something of the old manner of 
bringing narrative upon the stage clung also to the 
poet's last revision ; some places in Ophelia's exit 
and the graveyard scene appear to be new-cut 
diamonds, which the poet has set in while working 
over the earlier connection. 

Nevertheless it is instructive to set forth dis- 
tinctly in a scheme, the artistic combination of the 
drama from the constituent parts already discussed. 
What is according to plan, what is designed for a 
certain purpose, has not been found by the poet 
entirely through the same consideration which is 
necessary to the reader when instituting his review. 
Much is evidently without careful weighing ; it has 
come into being as if by natural necessity, through 
creative power ; in other places, the poet is thought- 
ful, considerate, has doubted, then decided. But 
the laws of his creation, whether they directed his 
invention secretly and unconsciously to himself ; or 
whether, as rules known to him, they stimulated the 
creative power for certain effects, they are for us 


readers of his completed works, everywhere, dis- 
tinctly recognizable. This self-developing organiza- 
tion of the drama, according to a law, will here be 
briefly analyzed, without regard to the customary 
division into acts. 

Introduction, i. The key-note ; the ghost appears 
on the platform ; the guards and Horatio. 2. The 
exposition itself ; Hamlet in a room of state, before 
the beginning of the exciting force. 3. Connecting 
scene with what follows ; Horatio and the guards 
inform Hamlet of the appearance of the ghost. 
Interpolated exposition scene of the accessory 
action. The family of Polonius, at the departure 
of Laertes. 

The Exciting Force, i. Introductory key-note; 
expectation of the ghost. 2. The ghost appears to 
Hamlet. 3. Chief part, it reveals the murder to 
him. 4. Transition to what follows. Hamlet and 
his confidants. 

Through the two ghost scenes, between which 
the introduction of the chief persons occurs, the 
scenes of the introduction and of the first excite- 
ment are enclosed in a group, the climax of which 
lies near the end. 

Asce?iding action in four stages. First stage: the 
counter-players. Polonius propounds that Hamlet 
has become deranged through love for Ophelia. 
Two little scenes : Polonius in his house, and before 
the king; transition to what follows. Second 
stage : Hamlet determines to put the king to a test 
by means of a play. A great scene with episodical 


performances, Hamlet against Polonius, the cour- 
tiers, the actors. Hamlet's soliloquy forms the 
transition. Third stage : Hamlet's examination by 
the counter-players, i. The king and the intriguers. 
2. Hamlet's celebrated monologue. 3. Hamlet 
warns Ophelia. 4. The king becomes suspicious. 
These three stages of the rising action are worked 
out with reference to the effect of the two others ; 
the first becdmes an introduction, the broad and 
agreeable elaboration of the second forms the chief 
part of the ascent ; the third, through the continua- 
tion of the monologue, beautifully connected with 
the second, forms the climax of the group, with 
sudden descent. Fourth stage, which leads up to 
the climax : the play, confirmation of Hamlet's 
suspicion, i. Introduction. Hamlet, the players 
and courtiers. 2. The rendering of the play, the 
king. 3. Transition, Hamlet, Horatio, and the 

Climax. A scene with a prelude, the king 
praying. Hamlet hesitating. Closely joined to 
this, the 

Tragic Force or Incident. Hamlet, during an inter- 
view with his mother, stabs Polonius. Two little 
scenes, as transition to what follows ; the king de- 
termines to send Hamlet away. These three scene- 
groups are also bound into a whole, in the midst of 
which the climax stands. At either side in splendid 
working-out, are the last stage of the rising action 
and the tragic force. 

The Return. Introductory side-scene. Fortin- 


bras and Hamlet on the way. First stage : 
Ophelia's madness, and Laertes demanding revenge. 
Side scene : Hamlet's letter to Horatio. Second 
stage : A scene ; Laertes and the king discuss 
Hamlet's death. The announcement of the queen 
that Ophelia is dead, forms the conclusion, and the 
transition to what follows. Third stage : Burial of 
Ophelia. Introduction scene, with great episodical 
elaboration. Hamlet and the grave-diggers. The 
short, restrained chief scene ; the apparent recon- 
ciliation of Hamlet and Laertes. 

Catastrophe. Introductory scene : Hamlet and 
Horatio, hatred of the king. As transition, the 
announcement of Osric ; the chief scene, the killing. 
Arrival of Fortinbras. 

The three stages of the falling action are con- 
structed less regularly than those of the first half. 
The little side scenes without action, through 
which Hamlet's journey and return are announced, 
as well as the episode with the grave-diggers, 
interrupt the connection of scenes. The work of 
the dramatic close is of ancient brevity and vigor. 



The drama of the Hellenes was built up in a reg- 
ular system of parts, so that between a completed 
introduction and the catastrophe, the climax came 
out powerfully, bound by means of a few scenes of 
the rising and of the falling action with the begin- 


ning and the end ; within these limits was an action 
filled with violent passion, and elaborately finished. 
The drama of Shakespeare led an extensive action 
in a varied series of dramatic forces, in frequent 
change of finished scenes and accessory scenes, by 
steep ascent, up to a lofty height ; and from this 
summit again downward, by stages. The whole 
passed before the spectator tumultuously, in violent 
commotion, rich in figures and sublime effects prom- 
inently brought forward. The German stage, on 
which since Lessing our art has blossomed, col- 
lected the scenic effects into larger groups, which 
were separated from each other by more marked 
boundaries. The effects are carefully prepared, the 
ascent is slow, the altitude which is attained is less 
lofty and of longer continuance ; and gradually, as 
it arose, the action sinks to the close. 

The curtain of our stage has had a material influ- 
ence on the structure of our plays. The parts of 
the drama, which have been presented already, must 
now be disposed in five separate divisions ; they 
possessed greater independence, because they were 
drawn farther apart from each other. The transi- 
tion from the old way of dividing the action to our 
five acts, was, of course, long ago prepared. The 
meritorious method of binding together different 
moods, which the ancient chorus between the single 
parts of the action represented, failed already in 
Shakespeare ; but the open stage, and the pauses, 
certainly shorter, made, as we frequently recognize 
in his dramas, breaks in the connection, not always 


so deep as does in our time, the close by means of 
the curtain, and the interval with music, or without 
it. With the curtain, however, there came also the 
attempt not only to indicate the environment of the 
person who entered, but to carry on the perform- 
ance with more pretentious elaboration by means of 
painting and properties. By this means, the effects 
of the play were essentially colored, and only occa- 
sionally supported. Moreover, by this means, the 
different parts of the action were more distinctly 
separated than they were yet in Shakespeare's time. 
For by means of change of decorations often bril- 
liant, not only the acts, but the smaller parts of the 
action, became peculiar pictures which form a con- 
trast in color and tone. Every such change dis- 
tracts ; each makes a new tension, a new intensifying, 

Therefore little but important alterations were 
produced in the structure of the pieces. Each act 
received the character of a completed action. For 
each, a striking of chords to give the keynote, a 
short introduction, a climax in strong relief, an 
effective close, were desirable. The rich equipment 
for scenic surroundings compelled a restriction of 
the frequent change of place, which in Shakespeare's 
time had become too easy, a leaving out of illustra- 
tive side scenes, and the laying of longer parts of the 
action in the same room, and in divisions of time 
following immediately upon one another. Thus the 
number of scenes became less, the dramatic flow of 
the whole more quiet, the joining of greater and 


lesser forces more artistic. One great advantage, 
however, was offered by closing up the stage. It 
would now be possible to begin in the midst of a 
situation, and end in the midst of a situation. The 
spectator could be more rapidly initiated into the 
action, and more quickly dismissed, without taking 
in the bargain the preparation and the solution of 
what had held him spell-bound ; and that was no 
small gain which was possible five times in a piece, 
for the beginning and the end of the effects. But 
this advantage offered also a danger. The depic- 
tion of situations, the presentation of circumstances 
with less dramatic movement, became easier now ; 
this painting especially favored, for the quiet Ger- 
mans, the longer retention of the characters in the 
same enclosed room. On such a changed stage, the 
German poets of the last century produced their 
act^ till the time of Schiller, planning with fore- 
sight, — introducing with care, — all with a sustained 
movement of scenes and effects which corresponded 
to the measured and formal sociability of the time. 

In the modern drama, in general, each act in- 
cludes one of the five parts of the older drama ; the 
first contains the introduction ; the second, the ris- 
ing action ; the third, the climax ; the fourth, the 
return ; the fifth, the catastrophe. But the neces- 
sity of constructing the great parts of the piece in 
the same fashion as to external contour, renders it 
impossible that the single acts should correspond 
entirely to the five great divisions of the action. Of 
the rising action, the first stage was usually in the 


first act, the last sometimes in the third ; of the fall- 
ing action, the beginning and end were sometimes 
taken in the third and fifth acts, and combined with 
the other component parts of these acts into a 
whole. Naturally Shakespeare had already, as a 
rule, made his divisions in this manner. 

This number of acts is no accident. The Roman 
stage long ago adhered to it. But only since the 
development of the modern stage among the French 
and Germans, has the present construction of the 
play been established in these countries. 

In passing, it may be remarked that the five 
parts of the action will bear contracting into a 
smaller number of acts, with lesser subjects of less 
importance and briefer treatment. The three points, 
the beginning of the struggle, the climax, and the 
catastrophe, must always be in strong contrast; the 
action allows then of division into three acts. Even 
in the briefest action, which may have its course in 
one act, there are five or three parts always recog- 

But as every act has its significance for the 
drama, so it has also its peculiarities in construc- 
tion. A great number of variations is possible here. 
Every material, every poetic personality demands 
its own right. Still, from a majority of works of art 
at hand, some frequently recurring laws may be rec- 

The act of the introduction contains still, as a 
rule, the beginning of the rising movement, and in 
general, the following moments or forces : the intro- 


ductory or key note, the scene of the exposition, 
the exciting force, the first scene of the rising 
action.^ It will therefore be in two parts, as a gen- 
eral thing, and concentrate its effects about two 
lesser climaxes, of which the last may be the most 
prominent. Thus in Emilia Galotti, the prince at 
his work-table is the key-note ; the interview of the 
prince with the painter is the exposition ; in the 
scene with Marinelli lies the exciting force, the 
approaching marriage of Emilia. The first ascent 
is in the following short scene, with the prince, in his 
determination to meet Emilia at the Dominicans'. In 
Tasso, the decking of the statues with garlands by 
the two women indicates the prevailing mood of the 
piece ; their succeeding conversation and the talk 
with Alphonso is the exposition. Following this, the 
decking of Tasso with wreaths by the princess is 
the exciting force ; the entrance of Antonio and his 
cool contempt for Tasso is the first stage of the 
rising action. So in Mary Stuart, the forcing of the 
cabinets, the confession to Kennedy, the entrance 
of Mortimer, and the great scene between Mary and 
the emissaries, follow after each other. In William 
Tell, where the three actions are interwoven, there 
stands after the situation near the beginning, which 
gives the key-note, and after a short introductory 
colloquy of country people, the first exciting force 
for the action of Tell, — Baumgarten's flight and res- 
cue. Then follows as introduction to the action of 
the confederated Swiss, the scene before Stauffa- 
cher's house. After this, the first rising action for 

iqS freytag's technique of the drama. 

Tell ; the conversation before the hat on the pole. 
Finally, for the second action, the exciting force, in 
the conversation of Walter Fiirst and Melchthal ; 
the making of Melchthal's father blind ; and as 
finale of the first ascent, the resolution of the three 
Swiss to delay at Riitli. 

The act of the ascent has for its duty in our 
dramas, to lead up to the action with increased ten- 
sion, in order to introduce the persons in the coun- 
ter-play who have found no place in the first act. 
Whether this contains one or several stages of the 
progressing movement, the hearer has already 
received a number of impressions ; therefore in this, 
the struggles must be greater, a grouping of several 
in an elaborate scene, and a good close to the act, 
will be useful. In Emilia Galotti, for instance, the 
act begins, as almost every act in Lessing does, 
with an introductory scene, in which the Galotti 
family are briefly presented, then the intriguers of 
Marinelli expose their plan. Then the action fol- 
lows in two stages, the first of which contains the 
agitation of Emilia after the meeting with the 
prince ; the second, the visit of Marinelli and his 
proposition to Appiani. Both great scenes are 
bound together by a smaller situation scene which 
presents Appiani and his attitude toward Emilia. 
The beautifully wrought scene of Marinelli follows 
the excited mood of the family as an excellent 
close. The regular construction of Tasso shows in 
two acts just two stages of the ascent : the approach 
of Tasso to the princess, and in sharp contrast, his 


strife with Antonio. The second act in Mary Stuart, 
in its introduction leads forward Elizabeth and the 
other counter-players ; it contains the rising action, 
Elizabeth's approach to Mary, in three stages : first, 
the strife of the courtiers in favor of Mary and 
against her, and the effect of Mary's letter upon 
Elizabeth ; further, the conversation of Mortimer 
with Leicester, introduced by the conversation of 
the queen with Mortimer; finally, Leicester's induc- 
ing Elizabeth to see Mary. Tell, finally, compasses 
in this act the exposition of its third action, the 
Attinghausen family ; then, for the confederated 
Swiss, a climax in an elaborate scene : Riitli. 

The act of the climax must strive to concentrate 
its forces about a middle scene, brought out in 
strong relief. This most important scene, however, 
if the tragic force comes in here, is bound with a 
second great scene. In this case, the climax scene 
moves well back toward the beginning of the third 
act. In Emilia Galotti, the entrance of Emilia is 
the beginning of this highest scene, after an intro- 
ductory scene in which the prince explains the 
strained situation, and after the explanatory 
announcement regarding the attack. The pros- 
tration of Emilia and the declaration of the 
prince are the highest point in the piece. The out- 
bursting rage of Claudia against Marinelli follows 
this closely, as a transition to the falling movement. 
In Tasso, the act begins with the climax, the con- 
fessions which the princess makes to Leonora of 
her attachment to Tasso. Following this, comes as 


first stage of the falling movement, the interview 
between Leonora and Antonio, in which the latter 
becomes interested in Tasso and resolves to estab- 
lish the poet at court. In Mary Stuart, the climax 
and the tragic force lie in the great park scene, 
which is in two parts ; following this and connected 
with it by a little side scene, is the outburst of Mor- 
timer's passion to Mary, as beginning of the falling 
action ; the dispersion of the conspirators forms the 
transition to the following act. The third act of 
Tell consists of three scenes, the first of which con- 
tains a short preparatory situation scene in Tell's 
house, — Tell's setting out ; the second, the climax 
between Rudenz and Bertha ; the third, the greatly 
elaborated climax of the Tell action, — the shooting 
of the apple. 

The act of the return has been treated by the 
the great German poets, with great and peculiar 
carefulness since Lessing's time, and its effects are 
almost always regular and included in a scene of 
much significance. On the other hand, among us 
Germans, the introduction of new roles into the 
fourth act is much more frequent than in Shakes- 
peare, whose praiseworthy custom it was, previously 
to intertwine his counter-players in the action. If 
this is impracticable, still one must be on his guard 
not to distract attention by a situation scene, which 
a piece does not readily allow in this place. The 
newcomers of the fourth act must quickly take a 
vigorous hold of the action, and so by a powerful 
energy justify their appearance. The fourth act of 


Emilia Galotti is in two parts. After the preparatory 
conversation between Marinelli and the prince, the 
new character, Orsina, enters as accomplice in the 
counter-play. Lessing understood very well how to 
overcome the disadvantage of the new role, by giv- 
ing over to the impassioned excitement of this 
significant character, the direction of the following 
scenes to the conclusion of the act. Her great 
scene with Marinelli is followed by the entrance of 
Odoardo, as the second stage. The high tension 
which the action receives by this, closes the act 
effectively. In Tasso, the return has its course in 
just two scenes : Tasso with Leonora, and Tasso 
with Antonio ; both are concluded by Tasso's 
monologues. The regular fourth act of Mary Stuart 
will be discussed later. In William Tell, the fourth 
act for Tell himself contains two stages for the 
falling action ; his escape from the boat, and Gess- 
ler's death. Between these, stands the return action 
for the Attinghausen family, which is interwoven 
here with the action of the Swiss confederation. 

The act of the catastrophe contains almost 
always, besides the concluding action, the last stage 
of the falling action. In Emilia Galotti, an intro- 
ductory dialogue between the prince and Marinelli 
begins the last stage of the falling action, that great 
interview between the prince, Odoardo and Mari- 
nelli, hesitation to give back the daughter to her 
father, then the catastrophe, murder of Emilia, 
The same in Tasso ; after the introductory conversa- 
tion of Alphonso and Antonio, the chief scene ; 


Tasso's prayer that his poem be restored to him ; 
then the catastrophe, Tasso and the princess. Mary 
Stuart, — otherwise a model structure in the individ- 
ual acts — shows the result of using a material 
which has kept the heroine in the background since 
the middle of the piece, and has made the counter- 
player, Elizabeth, chief person. The first scene- 
group, Mary's exaltation and death, contains her 
catastrophe, and an episodical situation scene, and 
her confession, which seemed necessary to the poet, 
in order to win for her yet a slight increase of sym- 
pathy. Closely following her catastrophe, is that of 
Leicester, as connecting link to the great catas- 
trophe of the piece, Elizabeth's retribution. The 
last act of Tell, in two parts, is only a situation 
scene, with the episode of Parricida. 

Of all German dramas, the double tragedy of 
Wallenstein has the most intricate construction. In 
spite of its complexity, however, this is on the 
whole regular, and combines its action firmly with 
Wallensteiti s Death, as well as with The Piccolomini. 
Had the idea of the piece been perceived by the 
poet as the historical subject presented it, — an 
ambitious general seeks to seduce the army to a 
revolt against its commander, but is abandoned by 
the majority of his officers and soldiers and slain, — 
then the idea would, of course, have given a regular 
drama for rising and falling action, a not insignifi- 
cant excitement, the possibility of a faithful recon- 
struction of the historical hero. 

But with this conception of the idea, what is 


best is wanting to the action. For a deliberate 
treason, which was firmly in the mind of the hero 
from the beginning, excluded the highest dramatic 
task, — the working out of the conclusion from the 
impassioned and agitated soul of the hero. Wal- 
lenstein must be presented as he is turning traitor, 
gradually, through his own disposition, and the 
compulsion of his relations ; so another conception 
of the idea, and an extension of the action became 
necessary, — a general is, through excessive power, 
contentions of his adversaries, and his own pride of 
heart, brought to a betrayal of his commanding 
officer ; he seeks to seduce the army to revolt, but 
is abandoned by the majority of his officers and 
soldiers, and slain. 

With this conception of the idea, the rising half 
of the action must show a progressive infatuation of 
the hero, to the climax, — to the determination 
upon treason ; then comes a part, — the seduction 
of the army to revolt, — where the action hovers 
about the same height ; finally in a mad plunge, 
failure and destruction. The conflict of the general 
and his army had become the second part of the 
play. The division of this action into the five acts 
would be about the following : First act, introduc- 
tion, the assembling of Wallenstein's army at Pilsen. 
Exciting force ; dispatching of the imperial ambassa- 
dor, Questenberg. Second act, rising movement; 
Wallenstein seeks, in any case, the cooperation of 
the army, through the signatures of the generals ; 
banquet scene. Third act, through evil suggestions, 


excited pride, desire of rule, Wallenstein is forced 
to treat with the Swedes. Climax : Scene with 
Wrangel, to which is closely joined, as the tragic 
force, the first victory of the adversary, Octavio ; 
the gaining of General Buttler for the emperor. 
Fourth act, return action, revolt of the generals, and 
the majority of the army. Close of the act, a 
scene with cuirassiers. Fifth act, Wallenstein in 
Eger, and his death. In the broad and fine elabo- 
ration which Schiller did not deny himself, it was 
impossible for him to crowd the material so rich in 
figures and in forces, so full of meaning, into the 
frame of five acts. 

Besides, the character of Max very soon became 
exceedingly important to him, for reasons which 
could not be put aside. The necessity of having a 
bright figure in the gloomy group created him ; and 
the wish to make more significant the relations be- 
tween Wallenstein and his opponents, enforced this 

In intimate relation with Max, Friedland's 
daughter grew to womanhood ; and these lovers, 
pictures characteristic of Schiller, quickly won a 
deep import in the soul of the creating poet, ex- 
panding far beyond the episodical. Max, placed 
between Wallenstein and Octavio, pictured to the 
eye of the poet a strong contrast to either ; he en- 
tered the drama as a second first hero ; the episodi- 
cal love scenes, the conflicts between father and 
son, between the young hero and Wallenstein, ex- 
panded to a special action. 


The idea of this second action was : A high- 
minded, unsuspecting youth, who loves his general's 
daughter, perceives that his father is leading a 
political intrigue against his general, and separates 
himself from him ; he recognizes that his general 
has become a traitor, and separates himself from 
him, to his own destruction and that of the woman 
whom he loves. This action presents, in its rising 
movement, the embarrassment of the lovers and 
their passionate attachment, so far as the climax, 
which is introduced by Thekla's words, ** Trust them 
not ; they are traitors! " The relations of the lovers 
to each other, up to the climax, are made known 
only by the exalted frame of mind with which Max, 
in the first act, Thekla in the second, rise above and 
are in contrast with their surroundings. After the 
climax, follows the return, in two great stages, both 
of two scenes, the separation of Max from his 
father and the separation of Max from Wallenstein ; 
after this the catastrophe : Thekla receives the an- 
nouncement of the death of her lover, again in two 
scenes. With the illumination of two such dra- 
matic ideas, the poet concluded to interlace the two 
actions into two dramas, which together formed a 
dramatic unit of ten acts and a prelude. 

In The Piccolomiiii, the exciting force is a double 
one, the meeting of the generals with Questenberg, 
and the arrival of the lovers in the camp. The 
chief characters of the piece are Max and Thekla ; 
the climax of the play lies in the interview of these 
two, through which the separation of the guileless 


Max from his surroundings is introduced. The 
catastrophe is the complete renouncing of his father 
by Max. The passages which are brought into this 
play from the action of Walle?istei?i s Death, are the 
scenes with Questenberg, the interview of Wallen- 
stein with the faithful ones, and the banquet scene ; 
also, a great part of the first, second, and fourth 

In Wallensteifi s Death, the exciting force is the 
rumored capture of Sesina, closely connected with 
the interview between Wallenstein and Wrangel ; 
the climax is the revolt of the troops from Wallen- 
stein, — farewell of the cuirassiers. But the catas- 
trophe is double ; news of the death of Max, 
together with Thekla's flight, and the murder of 
Wallenstein. The scenes interwoven from the action 
of The Piccolomini are the interview of Max with 
Wallenstein and with Octavio, Thekla over against 
her relatives, and the separation of Max from Wal- 
lenstein, the messenger scene of the Swedish cap- 
tain, and Thekla's resolve to flee ; also one scene 
and conclusion of the second act, the climax of the 
third, the conclusion of the fourth act. 

Now, however, such an interweaving of two ac- 
tions and two pieces with each other would be diffi- 
cult to justify, if the union thus produced, the double 
drama, did not itself again form a dramatic unity. 
This is peculiarly the case ; the interwoven action 
of the whole tragedy rises and falls with a certain 
majestic grandeur. Therefore, in The Piccolomini, the 
two exciting forces are closely coupled; the first 



belongs to the entire action, the second to The Picco- 
lomifd. The drama has likewise two climaxes lying 
in close proximity, of which, one is the catastrophe 
of The Piccolomi?ii, the other the opening part of 
Walle7isteiii s Death. Again, at the close of the last 
drama, there are two catastrophes, one for the 
lovers, the other for Wallenstein and the double 

It is known that Schiller, during his elaboration 
of the play, laid the boundaries between The Picco- 
lomijii and Walleiisteiri s Death. The former embraced, 
originally, the first two acts of the latter, and the 
separation in spirit of Max from Wallenstein. This 
was, of course, an advantage for the action of Max. 
But with this arrangement, the scene with Wrangel, 
i. e. the portentous deed of Wallenstein, and besides 
this Buttler's apostacy to Octavio, i, e., the first 
ascent of Walle?istei7i s Death, and the first return of 
the entire drama, fell into the first of the two pieces ; 
and this would have been a considerable disadvan- 
tage ; for then the second drama would have con- 
tained, with such an arrangement, only the last part 
of the return, and the catastrophe of the two heroes, 
Wallenstein and Max ; and in spite of the magnifi- 
cent execution, the tension would have been too 
much lacking to this second half. Schiller con- 
cluded, therefore, rightly, to make the division 
farther back, and to end the first play with the great 
conflict scene between father and son. By this 
division, The Piccolomi?ii lost in compactness, but 
Walleiistehi s Death gained in an indispensable order 


of construction. Let it be noticed that Schiller 
made this alteration at the last hour, and that he 
was probably governed less by his regard for the 
structure of the parts, than by regard for the un- 
equal time which the two parts would take for rep- 
resentation according to the original division. The 
action did not form itself in the soul of the poet, 
as we, following his thought in the completed piece, 
might think. He perceived with the sureness of 
deliberation, the course and the poetic effect of the 
whole ; the individual parts of the artistic structure 
took their places in the whole according to a certain 
natural necessity. What was conformable to laws, 
in the combination, he has in nowise made every- 
where so distinct, through conscious deliberation, as 
we are obliged to do, getting our notion from the 
completed masterpiece. Nevertheless we have the 
right to point out what follows a law, even where he 
has not consciously cast it in a mould, reflecting 
upon it afterward as we do. For the entire drama, 
Walle?istein, in its division, which the poet adopted, 
partly as a matter of course, when he first planned 
it, and again for individual parts at a later date, per- 
haps for external reasons, is an entirely complete 
and regular work of art.^^ 

It is much to be regretted that our theatrical 
arrangements render it impossible to represent the 
whole masterpiece at one performance ; only in this 
way would be seen the beautiful and magnificent 
effects, which lie in the artistic sequence of parts. 
As the pieces are now given, the first is always at 


the disadvantage of not having a complete close ; 
the second, of having very numerous presupposed 
circumstances, and of its catastrophe demanding too 
much space — two acts. With a continuous repre- 
sentation, all this would come into right relations. 
The splendid prologue, *' The Camp," the beautiful 
pictures of which one only wants more powerfully 
condensed through an undivided action, could 
hardly be dispensed with as an introduction. It is 
conceivable that a time may come when it will be a 
pleasure to the German to witness his greatest 
drama in its entirety. It is not impracticable, how- 
ever great the strain would be upon the players. 
For even when both pieces are given, one after the 
other, no role exacts what would overtax the powers 
of a strong man. The spectators of the present, 
also, are, in the great majority of cases, not incapa- 
ble on special occasions of receiving a longer series 
of dramatic effects than our time allotted to a per- 
formance offers. But, indeed, such a performance 
would be possible, if only as an exception, at a 
great festival occasion, and if only in another audi- 
torium than our theaters. For what exhausts the 
physical strength of both player and spectator in 
less than three hours is the unearthly glare of the 
gaslight, the excessive strain upon the eyes, which 
it produces, and the rapid destruction of the breath- 
able air, in spite of all attempts at ventilation. 




The acts — this short foreign word has driven the 
German term into the background — are divided for 
stage purposes into scenes. The entrance and exit 
of a person, servants and the like being excepted, 
begins and ends the scene. Such a division of the 
acts is necessary to the management, in order easily 
to supervise the efforts of each single role ; and for 
the presentation on the stage, the scenes represent 
the little units by the combination of which the acts 
are formed. But the dramatic passages out of which 
the poet composes his action, sometimes embrace 
more than one entrance and exit, or are bound 
together in a greater number, by the continu- 
ance on the stage, of one person. This passage, 
this single dramatic movement, takes its form 
through the various stages in which the creative 
power of the poet works. 

For, like the links of a chain, the nearly related 
images and ideas interlock, themselves during the 
poet's labor, one evoking another with logical coer- 
cion. The single strokes of the action thus arrange 




themselves in such single parts, while the great 
outlines of the action the poet carries in his soul. 
However diverse the work of the creative power in 
different minds may be, these logical and poetical 
units are formed in every poetic work by necessity ; 
and anyone who gives careful attention, may easily 
recognize them in the completed poem, and perceive 
in individual instances the greater or less power, 
fervor, poetic fulness, and firm, neat method of 

Such a passage includes as much of a monologue, 
of dialogue, of the entrance and exit of persons as 
is needed to represent a connected series of poetic 
images and ideas, which somewhat sharply divides 
itself from what precedes and what follows. These 
passages are of very unequal length ; they may con- 
sist of a few sentences, they may embrace several 
pages ; they may alone form a short scene, they 
may, placed in juxtaposition, and provided with in- 
troductory words and a conclusion leading over to 
what follows, form a greater complete whole, within 
an act. For the poet, they are the links out of 
which he forges the long chain of the action ; he is 
well aware of their intrinsic merit and characteristic 
quality, even when he, with powerful effort is creat- 
ing and welding them, one immediately after an- 
other. ^ 

Out of the dramatic moments, the poet composes 
scenes. This foreign word is used by us with vari- 
ous meanings. It denotes to the director, first, the 
stage-room itself, then the part of the action which 


is presented without change of scenery. To the 
poet, however, scene means the union of several 
dramatic moments which forms a part of the action, 
carried on by the same chief person, perhaps an en- 
tire scene, from the director's point of view, at all 
events, a considerable piece of one. Since a change 
of scenery is not always necessary or desirable at 
the exit of a leading character, the scene of the poet 
and the scene of the director do not always exactly 
coincide.^" An example may be allowed here. The 
fourth act of Mary Stuart is divided by the poet into 
twelve parts (entrances), separated by one shifting 
of scenery within the act into two director scenes. 
It consists of two little scenes and one great scene, 
— thus three dramatic scenes. The first scene, the 
intriguers of the court, is composed of two dramatic 
moments, (i) after a short key note, which gives 
the tone of the act, the despair of Aubespine, (2) 
the strife between Leicester and Burleigh. The sec- 
ond scene, Mortimer's end, connected with the pre- 
ceding by Leicester's remaining on the stage, ( i ) 
Leicester's connecting monologue, (2) interview be- 
tween Leicester and Mortimer, (3) Mortimer's 
death. The third great scene, the conflict about 
the death sentence, is more artistically constructed. 
It is a double scene, similar to the first and second, 
only with closer connection, and consists of ten 
movements, of which the first four, the quarrel of 
Elizabeth and Leicester, united in a group, and the 
last six, the signing of the death warrant, stand in 
contrast. The six movements of the second half of 


the scene, coincide with the last six entrances of the 
act ; the last of these, Davison and Burleigh, is the 
close of this animated passage, and the transition to 
the fifth act. 

It is not always easy to recognize these logical 
units of the creating spirit, from a completed 
drama ; and now and then the critical judgment is 
in doubt. But they deserve greater attention than 
has so far been accorded to them. 
</ It was said in the last section, that every act 
must be an organized structure, which combines its 
part of the action in an order, conformable to a pur- 
pose and an effect. In it, the interest of the spec- 
tator must be guided with a steady hand, and 
increased ; it must have its climax a great, strong, 
elaborate scene. If it contains several such elabor- 
ate climaxes, these must be united by means of 
shorter scenes, like joints, in such a manner that the 
stronger interest will always rest on the later elabor- 
ate scene. 

t^ike the act, every single scene, transition scene 
as well as finished scene, must have an order of 
parts, which is adapted to express its import with 
the highest effect. An exciting force must intro- 
duce the elaborate scene, the spiritual processes in 
it must be represented with profusion, in effective 
progression, and the results of the same be indicated 
by telling strokes after its catastrophe, toward 
which it sweeps forward, richly elaborated ; the con- 
clusion must come, brief, and rapid ; for once its 
purpose attained, the tension slackened, then every 


useless word is too much. And as it is to be intro- 
duced with a certain rousing of expectation, so its 
close needs a slight intensifying, specially a strong 
expression of the important personalities, at the 
time they leave the stage. The so-called exits are 
no unwarranted desire of the player, however much 
they are misused by a crude effort for effect. The 
marked division at the end of the scene, and the 
necessity of transferring the suspense to what fol- 
lows, rather justify them as an artifice, specially at 
the close of an act, but of course in moderate use. 

The poet has frequent occasion, during the pre- 
sentation of a piece on our stage, to rage against 
the long intervals which are caused by the shifting 
of the scenery, and sometimes by the useless chang- 
ing of costumes. It must be the poet's concern, as 
much as possible to restrict the actor's excuse for 
this practice ; and when a change of costume is 
necessary, have regard to it in the arrangement of the 
action of the piece. A longer interval — that should 
never be more than five minutes — may, according 
to the nature of the piece, follow the second or third 
act. The acts which stand together in closer rela- 
tion, must not be separated by a pause ; what fol- 
lows a pause, must have the power to gather up 
forces, and excite a new suspense. Therefore, 
pauses between the fourth and fifth acts are most 
disadvantageous. These last two parts of the 
action should seldom be separated more markedly 
than would be allowable between two single scenes. 
The poet must guard against the production, in this 


part of the action, of closing effects which, on 
account of the shifting of scenery hard to manage, 
and the introduction of new crowds, occasion delay. 
But even the shifting of scenery within the limits 
of an act, is no indifferent matter. For every 
change in the appearance of the stage during an 
act, makes a new, strong line of separation ; and the 
distraction of the spectator is increased, since the 
custom has been adopted in modern times, of con- 
cealing the process of changing scenes from the 
spectator, by the drop curtain. For now it is 
impossible to tell, except by the color of the cur- 
tain, whether the break is made only for the sake of 
the management, or whether an act is ended. In 
view of this inconvenience, it must be the poet's 
zealous care to make any change of scenes in the act 
unnecessary ; and it will be well if during the pro- 
cess of composition, he relies on his own power" to 
achieve everything in this direction ; for frequently 
a change of the scenery seems to his embarrassed 
soul quite inevitable, while in most cases, by slight 
alterations in the action, it might be avoided. But 
if the shifting of curtains is not entirely unavoid- 
able during an act, care may yet be taken, at least 
not to have it occur in the acts which demand the 
greatest elaboration, specially the fourth, where 
without this the full skill of the poet is necessary in 
order to secure progressive power. Such a disturb- 
ing break is most easily overcome in the first half 
of the action. In the alternation of finished and 
connecting scenes, there lies a great effect. By this, 


every part of the whole is set in artistic contrast 
with its surroundings ; the essentials are set in a 
stronger light, the inner connection of the action is 
more intelligible in the alternating light and shadow. 
The poet must, therefore, carefully watch his fervid 
feeling, and examine with care what dramatic forces 
are for the essentials of his action, what for acces- 
sories. He must restrain his incHnation to depict 
fully certain kinds of characters or situations, in 
case these are not of importance to the action ; if, 
however, he cannot resist the charm of this habit, if 
he must deviate from this law and accord to an 
unessential force broader treatment, he will do it 
with the understanding that by special beauty of 
elaboration and finish, he must atone for the defect 
thus caused in the structure. 

The subordinate scene, however, whether it be 
the echo of a chief scene, or the preparation for a 
new scene, or an independent connecting member, 
will always give the poet the opportunity to show 
his talent for the roles, in the use of the greatest 
brevity. Here is the place for terse, suggestive 
sketching, which can, in a few words, afford a grati- 
fying insight into the inmost being of the figures in 
the background. 



The freedom in the construction of scenes for 
our stage, and the greater number of the actors, 
make it apparently so easy for the poet to conduct 


his action through a scene, that often, in the new 
drama, the customary result of an excessive lack 
of restraint is to be regretted. The scene becomes 
a jumble of speeches and responses, without suffi- 
cient order ; while it has a wearying length and 
smooth flowing sentences, neither elevation nor 
contrasts are developed with any power. Of course, 
there is not a total lack of connection in the scenes 
in the most bewildered work of the amateur ; for 
the forms are to such a degree the expression of the 
character, that dramatic perception and feeling, even 
though unschooled, is accustomed to hit what is the 
correct thing, in many essentials ; but not always, 
and not every one. Let the poet, therefore, during 
his work, critically apply a few well known rules. 

v Since the scene is a part of the drama, set off 
from other parts, and is to prepare for the meaning 
of what follows in itself, to excite interest, to place 
a final result in a good light, and then to lead over 
to what may follow in the next scene, — minutel}' 
examined, it will be found to contain five parts, 
which correspond to the five divisions of the drama. 
In well wrought scenes, these parts are collectively 
effective. For it is impracticable to conduct the ac- 
tion in a straight line to the final result. A. feels, 
wills, demands something. B. meets him, thinking 
with him, disagreeing with him, opposing him. In 
every case, the projects of the one are checked by 
the other, and for a time at least, turned aside. In 
such scenes, whether they present a deed, a battle 
of words, an exhibition of feeling, it is desirable 


that the climax should not lie in a direct line which 
leads from the supposed conditions previous to the 
action, to the final results ; but that it indicate the 
last point in a deviating direction, from which point 
the return action falls to the direct line again. Let 
it be the business of a scene to render B. harmless 
through A. ; its proposed result, B's promise to be 
harmless. Beginning of the scene : A. entreats B. 
to be no longer a disturber of the peace ; if B. is 
already willing to yield to this wish, a longer scene 
is not needed. If he accepts passively A's reasons, 
the scene moves forward in a direct line ; but it is 
in great danger of becoming wearisome. But if B. 
puts himself on his defensive, and persists in con- 
tinuing the disturbance or denies it, then the dia- 
logue runs to a point where B. is as far as possible 
from the wish of A. From here, an approach of 
points of view begins, the reasons put forth by A. 
show themselves strongest, till B. yields. 

But since every scene points to what follows, this 
pyramidal structure is frequently changed into the 
profile of a shore-beating wave, with long ascending 
line, and short falling side, — beginning, ascent, final 

According to the number of persons they con- 
tain, scenes are determined differently, and are 
subject to varied arrangement. The monologue 
gives the hero of the modern stage opportunity, in 
perfect independence of an observing chorus, to 
reveal to the audience his most secret feeling and 
volition. It might be supposed that such confiding 


to the hearer would be very acceptable ; but it is 
often not the case. So great is the influence of the 
struggle of each man, on every purpose of the 
drama, that every isolation of an individual must 
have a special justification. Only where a rich inner 
life has been concealed for a long time in the gen- 
eral play, does the auditor tolerate its private rev- 
elation. But in cases where artistic intrigue playing 
will make the audience a confidant, the spectator*' 
cares little for the quiet expression of an individual ; 
he prefers to gather for himself the connection and 
the contrasts of characters, from a dialogue. Mono- 
logues have a likeness to the ancient pathos-scene ; 
but with the numerous opportunities which our 
stage offers for characters to expose their inner 
lives, and with the changed purpose of dramatic 
effects through the actor's art, they are no neces- 
sary additions to the modern drama. 

Since monologues represent a pause for rest in 
the course of the action, and place the speaker in a 
significant manner before the hearer, they need in 
advance of themselves an excited tension of feeling 
in the audience, and then a line of division either 
before or after them. But whether they open an 
act or close it, or are placed between two scenes of 
commotion, they must always be constructed dram- 
atically. ^ Something presented on one side, some- 
thing on the other side; final result, and indeed, final 
result that wins something significant for the action 
itself. Let the two monologues of Hamlet in the 
rising action be compared. The second celebrated 


soliloquy **To be or not to be," is a profound reve- 
lation of Hamlet's soul, but no advance at all for 
the action, as it introduces no new volition of the 
hero ; through the exposition of the inner struggle, 
it only explains his dilatoriness. The previous 
monologue, on the contrary, a masterpiece of dram- 
atic emotion, — even this, the outburst resulting 
from the previous scene, has as its foundation a 
simple resolution; Hamlet says: (i) "The actor 
exhibits so great earnestness in mere play; (2) I 
sneak along inactive, in the midst of the greatest 
earnestness; (3) to the work! I will institute a 
play, in order to win resolution for an earnest deed." 
In this last sentence, the result of the entire preced- 
ing scene is at once concentrated, the effect which 
the interview with the players produces on the char- 
acter of the hero, and on the course of the action. 

Effective soliloquies have naturally become fa- 
vorite passages with the public. In Schiller's and 
in Goethe's plays, they are presented with great 
fondness by the rising generation. Lessing would 
hardly have sought this kind of dramatic effects, 
even if he had written more than Nathan The Wise 
in our iambics. 

J Next to the monologues, stand the announce- 
iments by messenger in our drama. As the former 
represent the lyric element, the latter stand for the 
epic. They have been already discussed. Since it 
is their task to relieve the tension already produced 
that they may be well received, the effect which 
they produce on the counter-players of the messen- 


ger, or perhaps on himself, must be very apparent. 
An intense counter-play must accompany and inter- 
rupt a longer communication, without, of course, 
outdoing it. Schiller, who is very fond of these 
messenger speeches, gives copious examples which 
serve not only for imitation but for warning. Wal- 
le?istei?t alone contains a whole assortment of them. 
In the beautiful model speeches, "There is in human 
life," and "We stand not idly waiting for invasion," 
the poet has connected the highest dramatic sus- 
pense with the epic situations. Wallenstein's inspi- 
ration and prophetic power appear nowhere so 
powerful as in his narratives. In the announcement 
of the Swede, however, the dumb play of the mor- 
tally wounded Thekla is in the strongest contrast 
with the behavior and the message of the active 
stranger. Moreover, this drama has other descrip- 
tions, — for example, the Bohemian cup and the 
room of the astrologer, — the curtailing or removal 
of which would be an advantage on the stage. 

The most im[)ortant part of an action has its 
place in tne dialogue scenes, specially scenes 
between two persons. The contents of these scenes, 
— something set forth, something set forth against it, 
perception against perception, emotion against 
emotion, volition against volition, — have with us, 
deviating from the uniform method of the ancients, 
found the most manifold elaboration. ^The purpose 
of every colloquy scene is to bring into prominence 
from the assertions and counter-,assertions, a result 
which impels the action further. While the ancient 


dialogue was a strife, which usually exercised no 
immediate influence on the soul of the participants, 
the modern dialogue understands how to persuade, 
demonstrate, bring over to the speaker's point of 
view. The arguments of the hero and his adversary 
are not, as in the Greek tragedy, rhetorical word- 
contests ; but they grow out of the character and 
spirit of the persons contending ; and the hearer is 
carefully instructed how far they are to express real 
feeling and conviction, and how far they shall mis- 

The aggressor must arrange the grounds of his 
attack exactly according to the personal character 
of his antagonist, or he must draw his motives truly 
from the depths of his own being. But in order 
that what has a purpose, or what is true, may be 
fully conceived by the hearer, there is needed a cer- 
tain trend of speech and reply on the stage, not in 
the regular course, conformable to custom, as among 
the Greeks or old Spanish, but essentially different 
from the way in which we undertake to convince 
any one in real life. To the character on the 
stage, time is limited ; he has no arguments to 
bring forward in a continuously progressive order of 
effects ; he has to explaij;i impressively for his 
hearer, what is most effective for the time and situ- 
ation. In reality, such a conflict of opinions may be 
in many parts, and may rest upon numerous grounds 
and opposing grounds ; the victory may long hang 
doubtful ; possibly an insignificant, subordinate rea- 
son may finally determine the outcome ; but this is 


not, as a rule, possible on the stage, as it is not 

Therefore, it is the duty of the poet to gather up 
these contrasts in a few utterances, and to express 
their inner significance with continuous, progressive 
force. In our plays, the reasonings of one strike 
like waves against the soul of the other, broken at 
first by resistance, then rising higher, till, perhaps, at 
last they rise above the resistance itself. It happens 
according to an old law of composition, that fre- 
quently the third such wave-beat gives the decision ; 
for if the proposition and counter-proposition have 
each made two excursions, by these two stages the 
hearer is sufficiently prepared for the decision ; he 
has received a strong impulse, and has been ren- 
dered capable of conveniently comparing the weight 
of the reasons with the strength of the character on 
which they are to work. Such dialogue scenes 
have been finely elaborated with great attractiveness 
on our stage, since Lessing's time. They correspond 
much to the joy of the Germans in a rational discus- 
sion of a matter of business. Celebrated roles of 
our stage are indebted for their success to them 
alone, — Marinelli, Carlos in Clavigo, Wrangel in 

Since the poet must so fashion the dialogue 
scene that the progress which it makes for the 
action becomes impressed upon the hearer, the 
technique of these scenes will be different according 
to the position in which they find the participants, 
and in which they leave them. The matter will be 


simplest when the intruder overcomes the one whom 
he attacks ; then two or three approaches and sepa- 
rations occur, till the victory of one, or if the 
attacked person is more tractable, there is a gradual 
coming over. A scene of such persuasion, of 
simple structure, is the dialogue in the beginning 
of Brutus and Cassius' relations ; Cassius presses, 
Brutus yields to his demands. The dialogue has a 
short introduction, three parts, and a conclusion. 
The middle part is of special beauty and great 
finish. Introduction, Cassius says, in effect, " You 
seem unfriendly toward me, Brutus." Brutus, " Not 
from coldness." The piarts: i. Cassius, "Much is 
hoped from you" (frequently interrupted with 
assurances that Brutus can trust him, and from cries 
without, calling attention to Caesar). 2. ''What 
is Caesar more than we ? " 3. " Our wills shall 
make us free." Conclusion, Brutus, ** I will con- 
sider it." 

• But if the speakers separate without coming to 
terms, their position with reference to each other 
must not remain unchanged during the scene. It 
is intolerable to the audience to perceive such lack 
of progress in the action. In such a case, the trend 
of one or both must be broken, enough so, that in 
another place in the action they apparently agree, 
and after this point of apparent agreement again 
turn away from each other with energy. The inner 
emotions through which these changes of relation 
are affected, must be not only genuine but adapted 
to produce what follows, not mere conflicting whims 


arranged for the sake of a scenic effect but of no 
service to the action or the characters. 

By unconnected talk, it is possible to bring into 
the field numerous reasons and counter-reasons, and 
to give the lines a sharper turn ; but on the whole, 
the structure remains in form, as was indicated in 
the comparison with a roaring wave ; a gradual 
movement upward to the climax, result, a short 
close. This is illustrated in the great quarrel scene 
between Egmont and Orange, indeed the best 
wrought part of the drama. It is composed of four 
parts, before which there is an introduction, and 
after which there is a conclusion. Introduction, 
Orange : "The queen regent will depart." Egmont : 
"She will not." First part. Orange: "And if 
another comes?" Egmont: "He will do as his 
predecessor did." Second part, Orange: "This 
time, he will seize our heads." Egmont: "That is 
impossible." Third part. Orange: "Alba is under 
way; let us go into our province." Egmont: 
"Then we are rebels." Here there is a turn; from 
this point, Egmont is the aggressor. Fourth part, 
Egmont : " You are acting irresponsibly." Orange : 
"Only with foresight." Orange: "I will go and 
deplore you as lost." The last uniting of these 
disputants into a harmonious spirit forms a fine 
contrast to Egmont's previous violence. 

The scenes between two persons have received 
special significance in the new drama, scenes in 
which two persons seem decidedly to cherish one 
opinion, love scenes. They have not originated in 


the ephemeral taste, or passing tenderness of poets 
and spectators, but through an original mental 
characteristic of the Germans. Ever since the ear- 
liest times, love-making, the approach of the young 
hero to a young maiden, has been specially charm- 
ing to German poetry. It has been the ruling 
poetic inclination of the people to surround the 
relations of lovers before marriage, with a dignity 
and a nobility of which the ancient world knew 
nothing. In no direction has the contrast of the 
Germans with ancient peoples shown itself more 
markedly ; through all the art of the middle ages, 
even to the present, this significant feature is notice- 
able. Even in the serious drama, it prevails with a 
higher justification. This most attractive and 
lovely relation of all the earth, is brought into 
connection with the dark and awful, as comple- 
mentary contrast, for the highest degree of tragic 

During the poet's work, indeed, these scenes are 
not the most convenient part of his creation ; and 
everyone will not succeed in them. It is not a 
useless work to compare with each other the 
greatest love scenes in our possession, the three 
scenes with Romeo at the masked ball, the balcony 
scene, before and after the marriage night, and 
Gretchen in the garden. In the first Romeo scene, 
the poet has set the most difficult task for the 
actor's art ; in it, the speech of the beginning pas- 
sion is wonderfully abrupt and brief ; from behind 
the polite play of words, which was current in 


Shakespeare's time, the growing feeling appears 
only in "lightning flashes. Indeed, the poet per- 
ceived into what difficulties a fuller speech would 
plunge him. The first balcony scene has always 
been considered a masterpiece of the poetic art ; 
but when one analyzes the exalted beauty of its 
verses, one is astonished to find how eloquently, 
and with what unrestrained enjoyment, the spirits 
of the lovers are able to sport with their passionate 
feeling. Beautiful words, delicate comparisons, are 
so massed that we sometimes almost feel the art to 
be artful. For the third, the morning scene, the 
idea of the old minnesongs^ and popular songs, — the 
song of the watchmen, — are made use of in a most 
charming manner. 

Goethe, also, in his most beautiful love scene 
has made poetic use of popular reminiscences ; he 
has composed the declaration of love, in his own 
manner, out of little lyric and epic moments, which 

— though not entirely favorable for a great effect, 

— he interrupts through the incisive contrast, 
Martha and Mephistopheles. This circumstance, 
also, reminds us that the dramatist was a great lyric 
poet, in that Faust retires for the most part, and 
the scenes are not much other than soliloquies of 
Gretchen. But each of the three little parts of 
which the picture is composed is of wonderful 

To the enthusiastic Schiller, on the other hand, 
while he was writing iambics, success in this kind 
of scenes was not accorded. He succeeded best in 


The Bride of Messina. But in William Tell, the scene 
between Rudenz and Bertha is without life ; and 
even in Wallenstei?i, when such a scene was quite 
necessary, he has through the absence of Countess 
Terzky put a damper on it ; Thekla must keep the 
loved one from the camp and from the astrologer's 
room, till finally by herself for a brief time, she can 
utter the significant warning. 

The brilliant examples of Shakespeare and 
Goethe show, also, the danger of these scenes. This, 
too, must be discussed. The utterance of lyric 
emotions on the stage, if it is at all continued, will, 
in spite of all poetic art, certainly weary the hearer ; 
it becomes the dramatic poet's profitable task then, 
to invent a little occurrence in which the ardent 
feeling of the loving pair can express itself by mu- 
tual participation in a moment of the action ; in 
this way he possesses the dramatic thread on which 
to string his pearls. The sweet love chatter which 
has no purpose beyond itself, he will rightly avoid; 
and where it is inevitable, he will replace with the 
beauty of poetry what he, as a conscientious man, 
must take from the length of such scenes. 

The entrance of a third person into the dialogue 
gives it a different character. As through the third 
man the stage picture receives a middle point, and 
the setting up of a group, so the third man often 
becomes, in import, an arbitrator or judge before 
whom the two parties lay the reasons they have at 
heart. These reasons of the two parties are, in 
such a case, arranged directly for him, according to 


• his disposition, and thereby take on the nature of 
something that is known. The course of the scene 
becomes slower; between speech and response, a 
judgment enters which must, also, present itself to 
the hearer with some significance. Or the third 
player is himself a party and associate of one side. 
In this case, the utterances of one party will be- 
come more rapid, must break out with more feeling, 
because from the interested hearer, greater intensity 
of attention is exacted, while he must put the char- 
acter and import of two persons in one scale. 

Finally, -the third and most infrequent case is 
that each of the three sets up his will against the 
other two. Such scenes are sometimes serviceable 
as the last notes of a relieved suspense. They have 
but a brief service to render; for the three speakers 
utter themselves really in monologues : thus the 
scene with Margaret in Richard III., where one 
character gives the melody, both the other charac- 
ters in contrasts give the accompaniment. But 
such scenes with three players rarely gain signifi- 
cance in greater elaboration, except when at least 
one of the players goes over to the point of view 
of another in simulated play. 

Scenes which collect more than three persons 
for active participation in the action, the so-called 
ensemble scenes, have become an indispensable ele- 
ment in our drama. They were unknown to the old 
tragedy ; a part of their service was replaced by a 
union of a solo actor and the chorus. They do not 
comprise, in the newer drama, specially, the highest 


tragic effects, although a greater part of the most ■ 
animated action is executed in them. For it is a 
truth not sufficiently regarded, that what originates 
from many, or consists of many things, excites and 
holds attention less than what receives its vividness 
or comes alive from the soul of the chief figures. 
The interest in the dramatic life of the subordinate 
characters is less, and the remaining of many par- 
ticipants on the stage may easily distract the eye 
or the curiosity, rather than attract and arouse. On 
the whole, the nature of these scenes is that by 
good management on the part of the poet, they 
keep the audience busily occupied and relieve the 
suspense created by the chief heroes ; or they help 
to call forth such a suspense in the souls of the 
chief figures. They have, therefore, the character 
of preparatory, or of closing scenes. 

It hardly need be mentioned that their peculiar- 
ities do not always become apparent when more 
than three persons are on the stage. For when a 
few chief roles alone, or almost exclusively, present 
the action, accessory figures may be desirable in 
considerable number. A council scene or parade 
scene may easily collect a multitude of actors on 
the stage, without their coming forward actively in 
the action. 

The first direction for the construction of the 
ensemble scene is, the whole company must be occu- 
pied in a manner characteristic of the persons and 
as the action demands. They are like invited guests, 
for whose mental activity the poet must, as invisible 


host, have incessant care. During the progress of 
the action, he must perceive clearly the effects which 
the individual processes, speech, response, produce 
on each of the participants in the play. 

It is evident that one person must not express in 
the presence of another person on the stage, what 
this one is not to hear ; the usual device of an aside 
must be used only in extreme cases, and for a few 
words. But there is a greater difficulty. A role 
must also not express anything to which another 
person present is to give an answer which, according 
to his character, is necessary, but which would be 
useless and clogging to the action. In order to be 
just to all characters in a scene full of persons, the 
poet must have unrestricted mastery of his heroes, 
and a clear vision for stage pictures. For every 
individual role influences the mood and bearing of 
every other, and has a tendency, besides, to limit 
the freedom of expression of the others. In such 
scenes, therefore, the art of the poet will specially 
show itself by setting the characters in contrast, 
through sharp little strokes. ^ And it is well to 
observe that suitably to occupy all of the collected 
persons is rendered difficult by the nature of our 
stage, which incloses the actors by its curtains as in 
a hall; and if the poet does not take definite pre- 
cautions, as it is often impossible to do, this makes 
the separation of individuals difficult. 

But further, the more numerous the actors 
invited into a scene, the less space individuals have 
to express themselves in their own way. The poet 


must also see to it that the respective parts of the 
action are not broken up into fragments by the 
greater number of participants and made to move 
forward monotonously in little waves ; and as he 
arranges the persons in groups, he must like- 
wise arrange the action of the scene so that the 
movement of subordinate roles does not excessively 
limit the movement of the leading characters. 
Hence the value of the principle : the greater the 
number of persons in a scene, the stronger must be 
the organization of the structure. The chief parts 
must then be so much the more prominent, now the 
individual leading moods in contrast with the 
majority, now the cooperation of the whole stand in 
the foreground. 

Since with a greater number of players, the indi- 
vidual is easily concealed, those places in the 
ensemble scene are specially difficult in which the 
effect of any thing done is made to appear upon 
individual participants. When in such a case, a 
single brief word thrown in does not suffice to 
inform the spectator, some contrivance is needed 
which, without appearing to do so, separates the 
individual from the group and brings him to the 
front. It is entirely impracticable in such a case 
suddenly to interrupt the dramatic movement of the 
majority, and convert all the others into silent and 
inactive spectators of the private revelations of an 

The more rapidly the action moves forward in 
concerted play, the more difi^cult the isolation of the 


individual becomes. When the action has attained 
a certain height and momentum, it is not always 
possible even with the greatest art, to afford the 
chief actor room for a desirable exhibition of his 
inmost mood. Hence for such scenes, the value of 
the third law : the poet will not have his persons 
say all that is characteristic of them, and that would 
be necessary in itself for their roles. For here 
arises an inner opposition between the requisites of 
single roles and the advantage of the whole. Every 
person on the stage demands a share for himself in 
the progress of the action, so far as his associated 
relation with the other characters of the scene 
allows it. The poet is under the necessity, how- 
ever, of limiting this share. Even chief characters 
must sometimes accompany with dumb play, when 
in real life opportunity would be given to engage in 
the conversation. On the other hand, a long silence 
is embarrassing to a player, the subordinate char- 
acter becomes wearied and sinks into a stage 
walker, the chief character feels keenly the wrong 
which is done to his part ; far less, he feels its 
higher necessity. It does not always suffice for the 
right aggregate effect, that the poet have regard to 
the activity of the roles not standing entirely in the 
foreground, and by means of a few words, or by 
means of a not unknown employment, afford to the 
actor a certain direction for his dumb play, and at 
the same time a transition to the place where he 
shall again participate in the action. There are 
extreme cases where the same thing is valuable in a 


scene, that is allowed in a great painting showing 
numerous figures in vigorous action and complica- 
tion. Just as in the picture, the swing of the chief 
lines is so important that the right foreshortening of 
an arm or a foot must be sacrificed to it, so in the 
strong current of a scene rich in figures, the repre- 
sentation necessary for individual characters must 
be given up for the sake of the course, and the 
aggregate effect of the scene. In order that the 
poet may be able to practice attractively such 
offered deceptions, his understanding must be clear 
that in themselves they are blemishes. 

It is really to the advantage of a piece, to limit 
the number of players as much as possible. Every 
additional role makes the setting more difficult, and 
renders the repetition of the piece inconvenient, in 
case of the illness or withdrawal of an actor. These 
external considerations alone will determine the 
poet to weigh well, in composing his ensemble 
scenes, what figures are absolutely indispensable. 
Here comes an internal consideration : the greater 
the number of accessory persons in a scene, so 
much the more time it claims. 

The ensemble scenes are, of course, an essential 
help to give to the piece color and brilliancy. They 
can hardly be spared in using historical subjects. 
But they must be used in such pieces with modera- 
tion, because more than the others they make 
success depend on the skill of the manager, and 
because in them, the elaborate representation of the 
inner life of the chief figures, a minute portrayal of 


the mental processes, which claim the highest 
dramatic interest, is much more difficult. The 
second half of the piece will demand them most 
urgently, because here the activity of the counter- 
players comes forward more powerfully, tolerated, 
however, without injury, only when in this division 
of the action, the ardent sympathy of the spectators 
has already been immovably fixed with the chief 
characters. Here, too, the poet must take care not 
to keep the inner life of the hero too long con- 

One of the most beautiful ensemble scenes of 
Shakespeare is the banquet scene in Pompey's gdi\- 
\Qy, \n Afitony a?id Cleopatra. It contains no chief 
part of the action, and is essentially a situation 
scene, a thing not occurring frequently in the tragic 
part of the action in Shakespeare. But it receives 
a certain significance, because it is at the close of 
the second act, and also stands m a place demand- 
ing eminence, especially in this piece, in which the 
preceding political explanations make a variegated 
and animated picture very desirable. The abundance 
of little characterizing traits which are united in 
this scene, their close condensation, above all, the 
technical arrangement, are admirable. The scene 
is introduced by a short conversation among serv- 
ants, as is frequently the case in Shakespeare, in 
order to provide for the setting of the tables and 
the arrangement of the furniture on the stage. The 
scene itself is in three parts. The first part pre- 
sents the haughty utterances of the reconciled 


triumvirs, and the pedantry of the drunken simple- 
ton, Lepidus, to whom the servants have already 
referred ; the second, in terrible contrast, is the 
secret interview of Pompey and Menas ; the third, 
introduced by the bearing out of the drunken Lep- 
idus, is the climax of the wild Bacchanalia and 
rampant drunkenness. The connecting of the three 
parts, as Menas draws Pompey aside, as Pompey 
again in the company of Lepidus, resuming, continues 
the carouse, is quite worthy of notice. Not a word 
in the whole scene is without its use and signifi- 
cance ; the poet perceives every moment the condi- 
tion of the individual figures, and of the accessory 
persons ; each takes hold of the action effectively ; 
for the manager, as well as for the roles, the 
whole is adapted in a masterly way. From the 
first news of Antony across the Nile, — through 
which the image of Cleopatra is introduced even 
into this scene, — and the simple remark of Lepidus, 
**'You have strange serpents there," through which 
an impression is made on the mind of the hearer, 
that prepares for Cleopatra's death by a serpent's 
sting, to the last words of Antony, "Good; give 
me your hand, sir," in which the intoxicated man 
involuntarily recognizes the superiority of Augustus 
Caesar, and even to the following drunken speeches 
of Pompey and Enobarbus, everything is like fine 
chiseled work on a firmly articulated metal frame. 
A comparison of this scene with the close of the 
banquet act in The Piccolommi, is instructive. The 
internal similarity is so great that one is obliged to 


think Schiller had the Shakespearean performance 
before his eyes. Here also, a poetic power is to 
be admired, which can conduct a great number of 
figures with absolute certainty ; and here is a great 
wealth of significant forces, and a powerful climax 
in the structure. But what is characteristic of 
Schiller, these forces are partly of an episodical 
nature ; the whole is planned more broadly and 
extensively. This last has its justification. For 
the scene stands at the end, not of the second, but 
of the fourth act, and it contains an essential part 
of the action, the acquisition of the portentous 
signature ; it would have had a still greater place if 
the banquet did not fill the entire act. The con- 
nection of parts is exactly as in Shakespeare.^^ First 
comes an introductory conversation between serv- 
ants, which is spun out in disproportionate dimen- 
sions ; the description of the drinking cup has no 
right to take our attention, because the cup itself 
has nothing further to do with the action, and the 
numerous side lights which fall from this description 
upon the general situation are no longer strong 
enough. Then comes an action, also in three parts: 
first, Terzky's endeavor to get the signature from 
accessory persons ; second, in sharp contrast with 
the first, the brief conversation of the Piccolomini ; 
third, the decision, as a strife of the drunken Illo 
with Max. Here the union of the individual parts 
of the scene is very careful. Octavio, through 
Buttler's cautious investigation, quietly calls atten- 
tion away from the excited group of generals 


toward his son ; through the search for the wanting 
name, attention is completely turned to Max. Here- 
upon the intoxicated lUo turns first with great sig- 
nificance to Octavio before his collision with Max. 
The uniting and separating of the different groups, 
the bringing into prominence the Piccolomini, the 
excited side-play of the accessory characters, even 
to the powerful close, are very beautiful. 

Besides, we possess two powerful mass scenes of 
Schiller, the greatest out of the greatest time of 
our poetic art ; the Riitli scene, and the first act 
of Demetrius. Both are models which the beginner 
in dramatic wofk may not imitate, but may study 
carefully, in their sublime beauty. Whatever must 
be said against the dramatic construction of William 
Tell, upon single scenes there rests a charm, which 
continually carries one away with new admiration. 
In the Riitli scene, the dramatic movement is a 
moderately restrained one, the execution broad, 
splendid, full of beautiful local color. First, there is 
an introduction, the mood. It consists of three 
parts : arrival of the under forester, interview of 
Melchthal and Stauffacher, greeting of the cantons. 
Let it be noted that the poet has avoided wearying 
by a triple emphasizing of the entrance of the three 
cantons. Two chief figures here bring themselves 
into powerful contrast with the subordinate figures, 
and form a little climax for the introduction ; and 
distraction through several forces of equal impulse, 
is avoided. With the entrance of the Urians, through 
whose horn the descent from the mountain, and the 


discourse of those present is sufficiently emphasized, 
the action begins. This action runs along in five 
parts. First, appointment for public meeting, with 
short speeches and hearty participation of th* sub- 
ordinate persons ; second, after this, Stauffacher's 
magnificent representation of the nature and aim of 
the confederation ; third, after this powerful address 
of the individual, excited conflict of opinions and 
parties concerning the position of the confederation 
with reference to the emperor ; fourth, high degree 
of opposition, even to an outbreaking strife over the 
means of release from the despotism of the gov- 
ernors, and disagreement over the conclusions. 
Finally, fifth, the solemn oath. After such a con- 
clusion of the action, there is the dying away of the 
mood which takes its tone from the surrounding 
nature, and the rising sun. With this rich organiza- 
tion, the beauty in the relations of the single parts 
is especially attractive. The middle point of this 
whole group of dramatic incidents or forces, 
Stauffacher's address, comes out as climax ; after 
this as contrast, the restless commotion in the 
masses, the dawning satisfaction, and the lofty 
exaltation. Not less beautiful is the treatment 
of the numerous accessory figures, the independent 
seizing upon the action by single little roles, which 
in their significance for the scene stand near each 
other with a certain republican equality of justi- 

The greatest model for political action is the 
opening scene in Demetrius, the Polish parliament. 


The subject of this drama makes the communication 
of many presupposed conditions necessary ; the pe- 
culiar adventures of the boy, Demetrius, demanded a 
vigorous use of peculiar colors, in order to bring 
that strange world poetically near. Schiller, with 
the bold majesty peculiar to himself, made the epic 
narrative the center of a richly adorned spectacular 
scene, and surrounded the long recital of the indi- 
vidual, with the impassioned movements of the 
masses. After a short introduction follows, with the 
entrance of Demetrius, a scene in four parts, ( i ) the 
narrative of Demetrius, (2) the short, condensed 
repetition of the same by the archbishop, and the 
first waves which are thereby excited in the gather- 
ing, (3) the entreaty of Demetrius for support, and 
the increase of the agitation, (4) counter argument 
and protest of Sapieha. The scene ends with 
tumult and a sudden breaking off. By means of a 
slight dramatic force, it is connected with the fol- 
lowing dialogue between Demetrius and the king. 
The excitement of the subordinate characters is 
brief but violent, the leaders of opinion few ; except 
Demetrius, there is only one raising strong opposi- 
tion, from all the mass. It is perceived and felt 
that the masses have been given their mood in ad- 
vance ; the narrative of Demetrius, in its elegant 
elaboration forms the chief part of the scene, as was 
befitting for the first act. 

Goethe has left us no mass scene of great dram- 
atic effect unless we are to consider some short 
scenes in Gots as such. The populace scenes in 


Egmo7it lack in powerful commotion ; the beautiful 
promenade in Faust is composed of little dramatic 
pictures; the student scene in Auerbach's cellar pro- 
poses no tragic effect, and presents to the actor of 
Faust, the disadvantage that it leaves him idle, un- 
occupied on the stage. « 

The action scenes in which great masses work, 
demand the special support of the manager. If our 
stages have already, in the chorus personnel of the 
opera, a tolerable number of players, and these are 
accustomed to render service as stage-walkers, yet 
the number of persons who can be collected on the 
stage is often so small as to be lost sight of, when 
compared with the multitude which in real life par- 
ticipate in a populace scene, in a fight, in a great 

The auditor, therefore, easily feels the empti- 
ness and scantiness as he sits before the little crowd 
that is led in. It is also a disadvantage that the 
modern stage is little adapted to the disposition of 
great masses. Now, of course, the external arrange- 
ment of such scenes is for the most part in the 
hands of the manager ; but it is the poet's task 
through his art, to make it easy for the manager to 
produce the appearance of a lively multitude on the 

Since the entrance and exit of a great number of 
persons requires considerable time and distracts 
attention, this must be attracted and retained by 
suggestive little contrivances, and through the dis- 
tribution of the masses in groups. 


The space of the stage must be so arranged, that 
the comparatively small number of really available 
players can not be overlooked, — by shifting side- 
scenes, good perspective, an arrangement along the 
sides that shall suggest to the fancy greater invisible 
multitudes which make themselves noticeable by 
signs and calls to each other behind the scenes. 

Brilliant spectacular pageants, such as Iffland 
arranged for The Maid of Orleans, the composer of 
a tragedy will deny himself with right ; he will 
avoid as much as possible, the opportunity for 

On the other hand, mass effects in which the 
multitude surges in violent commotion, populace- 
scenes, great council assemblies, camps, battles, are 
sometimes desirable. 

For populace scenes, the beautiful treatment of 
Shakespeare has become a model often patterned 
after, — short, forcible speeches of individual figures, 
almost always in prose, interrupting and enlivening 
cries of the crowd, which receives its incitement 
from individual leaders. By means of a populace 
scene on the stage, other effects may be produced, 
not the highest dramatic effects, but yet significant, 
which till the present time have been little esteemed 
by our poets. Since we should not give up verse 
in populace scenes, another treatment of the 
crowd is offered than that which Shakespeare 
loved. Now the introduction of the old chorus 
is impossible. The new animation which Schiller 
attempted, dare not find imitation, in spite of the 


fulness of poetic beauty which is so enchanting 
in the choruses of the Bride of Messi?ia. But 
between the chief actors and a great number of 
subordinate actors, there is still another, dramatic, 
animated, concerted play conceivable, which con- 
nects the leader with the multitude as well as places 
him over against it. Not only short cries, but also 
speeches which require several verses, receive an 
increased power through the concert recitation of 
several with well practiced inflection and in meas- 
ured time. With the multitude introduced in this 
way, the poet will be put in a position to give it a 
more worthy share in the action ; in the change 
from single voices to three, or four, and to the 
whole together, between the clear tenor and power- 
ful bass, he will be able to produce numerous 
shades, modulations, and colors. With this concert 
speech of great masses, he must take care that the 
meaning of the sentence, and the weight and energy 
of the expression correspond ; that the words are 
easily understood and without discord; that the 
individual parts of the sentence form a pleasing 

It is not true that this treatment puts on the 
stage an artificial instead of a varied and natural 
movement ; for the usual manner of arranging pop- 
ulace scenes is an accepted artistic one, which 
transforms the course of the action according to a 
scheme. The way proposed here is only more 
effective. In making use of it, the poet may con- 
ceal his art, and by alternating in the use of the 


concert speech and counter-speech, produce variety. 
The sonorous speech in many voices is adapted not 
only to animated quarrels and discussions, it is 
available for every mood which effervesces in a 
popular tumult. On our stage up to the present 
time, the practice of concert speech has been unac- 
countably neglected ; it is often only an unintelli- 
gible scream. The poet will do well, therefore, to 
indicate specifically in the stage copies of his plays, 
how the voice groups are to be divided. In order 
to indicate this properly, he must have first felt the 
effects distinctly in advance. 

Battle scenes are in bad repute on the German 
stage, and are avoided by the poet with foresight. 
The reason is, again, that our theaters do such 
things badly. Shakespeare has an undeniable fond- 
ness for martial movements of masses. He has not 
at all lessened them in his later pieces ; and since 
he occasionally speaks with little respect of the 
means by which fights are represented in his thea- 
ter, one is justified in believing that he would will- 
ingly have kept away from them if his audiences 
had not liked them so well. But upon such a 
martial-spirited people, who passionately cultivated 
all manner of physical exercise, such an impression 
was possible only when in these scenes a certain art 
and technique were evident, and when the conven- 
tionalities of the stage did not make them deplor- 
able. Scenes like the fight of Coriolanus and 
Aufidius, Macbeth and Macduff, the camp scenes 
in Richard III. and Julius Ccesar, have such weight 


and significance that it is evident with what confi- 
dence Shakespeare trusted in their effects. In more 
recent times, on the English stage, these martial 
scenes have been embellished with a profusion of 
accessories, and their effects wonderfully enhanced ; 
the audience has been only too much occupied with 
them. If in Germany there is too little of this 
occurring, this negligence can afford the poet no 
grounds to keep himself anxiously free from battle 
scenes. There are accessory effects which can 
render him acceptable service. He must take a 
little pains, himself, to find out how they may be 
best arranged, and see to it that the stage does ks 





The fashioning of the dramatic characters, 
among the Germanic peoples, shows more distinctly 
than the construction of the dramatic action the 
progress which the human race has made since the 
appearance of dramatic art among the Greeks. Not 
only the natural disposition of our people, but its 
altitude above the historic periods of a world spread 
out to full view, and the consequent development of 
an historic sense, declare and explain this difference. 
Since it has been the task of the new drama, by 
means of the poetic and histrionic arts to represent 
upon the stage the appearance of an individual life, 
even to illusion, the delineation of character has 
won a significance for the art, which was unknown 
to the ancient world. 

The poetic power of the dramatic poet displays 
itself most immediately in the invention of dra- 
matic characters. In the construction of the action, 
in the adaptation to the stage, other characteristics 
help him : a true culture, manly traits of character, 
good training, experience ; but when the capability 



for a sharp defining of characters is small, a work, 
perhaps correct from the point of view of the stage, 'f 
may be created, but never pne^pf real significance. 
If, on the other hand, peculiar power of invention 
makes the individual roles attractive, a good hope 
may be cherished, even if the cooperation of the 
figures for a collective picture is quite lacking. 
Right here, then, in this part of artistic creation, 
less help is gained from instruction than in any 
other part. The poetics of the Greek thinkers, as 
we have received it, contains only a few lines on 
the characters. In our time, too, the technique is 
able to set up nothing but a few bare directions, which 
do not essentially advance the creating poet. What 
the rules for work can give, the poet carries, on the 
whole, securely in his own breast ; and what he 
does not possess, they are not able to give. 

The poet's characterization rests on the old pe- 
culiarity of man, to perceive in every living being 
a complete personality, in which a soul like that of 
the observer's is supposed as animating principle ; 
and beyond this, what is peculiar to this being, 
what is characteristic of it, is received as affording 
enjoyment. With this tendency, long before his 
power of poetic creation becomes an art, man trans- 
forms all that surrounds him into personalities, to 
which, with busied imagination, he attributes much 
of the character peculiar to human beings. In 
thunder and lightning, he perceives the form of a 
god, traversing the concave heaven in a war chariot, 
and scattering fiery darts ; the clouds are changed 


into celestial cows and sheep, from which a divine 
figure pours the milk upon the earth. Also the 
creatures which inhabit the earth with man, he per- 
ceives as possessed with a personality similar to that 
of man himself — thus bears, foxes, wolves. Every 
one of us imputes to the dog and to the cat ideas 
and emotions which are familiar to us ; and only 
because such a conception is everywhere a necessity 
and a pleasure, are animals so domesticated. This 
tendency to personify expresses itself incessantly: 
in intercourse with our fellow men, daily ; at our 
first meeting with a stranger ; from the few vital 
expressions which come to us from him ; from__sjn;; 
gle^jvords, from the tone of his voice, from the 
•^ expression of his countenance, we form the picture 
of his complete personality ; we do this especially 
by completing with lightning rapidity the imperfect 
impressions, from the stock of our phantasy, ac- 
cording to their similarity with previous impres- 
sions, or what has been previously observed. Later 
observation of the same person may modify the 
image which has fallen upon the soul, may give it 
a richer and deeper development ; but already, at 
the first impression, however small the number of 
characteristic traits may be, we perceive these as a 
logical, strictly computed whole, in which we rec- 
ognize what is peculiar to this man, upon the back- 
ground of what is common to all men. This 
creating of a form is common to all men, to all 
times ; it works in every one of us with the neces- 
sity and the rapidity of an original power ; it is to 


each one a stronger or a weaker capability ; it is to 
each a rapturous necessity. 

Upon this fact rests the efficacy of dramatic 
characterization. The inventive power of the poet 
produces the artistic appearance of a rich individual 
life, because he has so put together a few vital ex- 
pressions of a person — comparatively few — that 
the person, understood and felt by him as a unity, 
is intelligible to the actor and to the spectator as a 
charact^istic being. Even in the case of the chief 
heroes of a drama, the number of vital expressions 
which the poet, limited in time and space, is able to 
give, the aggregate number of characterizing traits, 
is much too small ; while in the case of accessory 
figures, perhaps two or three indications, a few 
words, must produce the appearance of an inde- 
pendent, highly characteristic life. How is this 
possible? For this reason : the poet understands 
the secret of suggesting ; of inciting the hearer, 
through his work, to follow the poet's processes and 
create after him. For the power to understand and 
enjoy a character is attained only by the self-activ- 
ity of the receptive spectator, meeting the creating 
artist helpfully and vigorously. What the poet and 
the actor actually give is, in itself, only single 
strokes ; but out of these grows an apparently 
richly gotten-up picture, in which we divine and 
suppose a fulness of characteristic life, because the 
poet and the actor compel the excited imagination 
of the hearer to cooperate with them, creating for 


The method of fashioning characters, by differ- 
ent poets, is of the greatest variety. It varies with 
different times and different peoples. The method 
of the Latin races is very different from that of the 
Germanic races. With the early Germans, the 
enjoyment has always, from the first, been greater 
in the invention of characterizing details ; with the 
Latins, the joy has been greater in compactly unit- 
ing, for a special purpose, the men represented, in 
an artistically interwoven action. The .modern 
German reaches more deeply into his artistic pro- 
duct ; he seeks to put upon exhibition a richer 
inner life ; what is peculiar, indeed what is specially 
rare, has the greatest charm for him. But the 
Latin perceives what is restricted to the individual, 
specially from the point of view of convenience 
and adaptability to purpose ; he makes society the 
center, not the inner life of the hero, as the German 
does ; he is glad to set over against each other, per- 
sons fully developed, often with only hasty outlines 
of character. It is their diverse tendencies that 
make them interesting to each other in the counter- 
play. Where the special task is the accurate repre- 
sentation of a character, as in Moliere, and where 
characteristic details elicit special admiration, these 
characters, the miser and the hypocrite, are inwardly 
most nearly complete ; they are exhibited with a 
monotony at last wearisome, in different social rela- 
tions ; in spite of the excellence in delineation on 
our stage, they become more and more foreign to 
us, because the highest dramatic life is lacking to 


them — the processes of coming into being, the 
growth of character. We prefer to recognize on 
the stage how one becomes a miser, rather than see 
how he is one. 

What fills the soul of a German, then, and makes 
a subject of value, what stimulates to creative activ- 
ity, is especially the peculiar transformations of 
character in the chief persons ; the characters blos- 
som first in his creating mind ; for these he invents 
the action ; from them beams the color, the warmth, 
the light, upon the accessory figures : the Latin has 
been more strongly attracted by the combinations 
of the action, the subordination of individual ele- 
ments to the dominion of the whole, suspense, 
intrigue. This contrast is old, but it comes down 
to the present time. It is more difficult for the 
German to construct an action for his clearly con- 
ceived characters ; for the Latin, the threads inter- 
lace easily and spiritedly into an artistic web. This 
peculiarity occasions a difference in the productive- 
ness and the value of the dramas. The literature of 
the Latins has little that can be compared with the 
highest products of the German mind ; but fre- 
quently, in the condition of our people, no piece 
available for the stage comes from their weaker tal- 
ents. Single scenes, single characters, command 
attention and admiration; but they lack, as a whole, 
in neat elaboration and power to excite feeling. 
Mediocrity succeeds better outside of Germany ; 
and where neither the poetic idea nor the characters 
lay claim to poetic value, the shrewd invention of 


intrigue, the artistic combination of persons for ani- 
mated life, is found entertaining. While with the 
Germans, that which is most highly dramatic, — the 
working out of the perceptions and feelings in the 
soul, into a deed, — comes to light more seldom, 
yet once in a while, in irresistible power and beauty 
in art, with the Latins is found more frequently and 
more productive the second characteristic of dra- 
matic creation, — the invention of the counter-play, 
the effective representation of the conflict which 
the environment of the hero wages against his 

But further, in the work of every individual poet, 
the method of characterization is diverse ; very dif- 
ferent is the wealth of figures, and the pains and 
distinctness with which their essential nature is pre- 
sented to the hearer. Here Shakespeare is the 
deepest and richest of creative geniuses, not without 
a peculiarity, however, which often challenges our 
admiration. We are inclined to accept it, and we 
learn it from many sources, that his audience did 
not consist entirely of the most intelligent and cul- 
tured people of old England ; we are also justified 
in supposing that he would give to his characters a 
simple texture, and accurately expose their relation 
to the idea of the drama, from all sides. This does 
not always occur. The spectator, in the case of 
Shakespeare's heroes, does not remain in uncer- 
tainty as to the chief motive of their actions ; indeed 
the full power of his poetic greatness is evident just 
in this, that he understands, as no other poet does. 


how to express the mental processes of the chief 
characters, from the first rising perception to the 
ch'max of passion, with extremely affecting power 
and truth. The propelling counter-players in his 
dramas, lago and Shylock, for instance, do not fail 
to make the spectator a confidant in what they 
wish. And it may be well said that the characters 
of Shakespeare, whose passion beats in the highest 
waves, allow the spectator to look into the depths 
of their hearts, more than the characters of any 
other poet. But this depth is sometimes unfathom- 
able to the eyes of the histrionic artist, as well as 
to the sight of the audience ; and his characters are 
by no means always so transparent and simple as 
they appear at a casual glance. Indeed, many of 
them have something about them peculiarly enig- 
matical, and difficult to understand, which perpetu- 
ally allures toward an interpretation, but is never 
entirely comprehended. 

Not only such persons as Hamlet, Richard III., 
lago, in whom peculiar thoughtfulncss, or an essen- 
tial characteristic not easily understood, and single 
real or apparent contradictions are striking, come 
into this list, but such as, with superficial observa- 
tion, stride away down the straight street, stage 

Let the judgments be tested which for a hun- 
dred years have been pronounced in Germany on 
the characters in Julius Ccesar, and the glad approval 
with which our contemporaries accept the noble 
effects of this piece. To the warm-hearted youth, 


Brutus is the noble, patriotic hero. An honest 
commentator sees in Caesar, the great, the immova- 
ble character, superior to all; a politician by profes- 
sion rejoices in the ironical, inconsiderate severity 
with which, from the introduction forward, the poet 
has treated Brutus and Cassius as impractical fools, 
and their conspiracy as a silly venture of incapable 
aristocrats. The actor of judgment, at length, finds 
in the same Caesar whom his commentator has held 
up to him as a pattern of the possessor of power, a 
hero inwardly wounded to death, a soul in which the 
illusion of greatness has devoured the very joints 
and marrow. Who is right ? Each of them. And 
yet each of them has the notion that the characters 
are not entirely a mixture of incongruous elements, 
artfully composed, or in any way untrue. Each of 
them feels distinctly that they are excellently 
created, live on the stage most effectively ; and the 
actor himself feels this most strongly, even if the 
secret of Shakespeare's poetic power should not be 
entirely understood. 

Shakespeare's art of character building repre- 
sents to an unusual extent and perfection, what is 
peculiar to the Germanic method of creation, as 
opposed to that of the old world, and that of those 
peoples of culture, not pervaded with German life. 
^=What is German is the fulness, and affectionate 
fervor which forms every single figure carefully, 
accurately, according to the needs of each individual 
masterpiece of art, but considers the entire life of 
the figure, lying outside of the piece, and seeks 


to seize upon its peculiarity. While the German 
conveniently casts upon the pictures of reality, the 
variegated threads spun by his teeming fancy, he 
conceives the real foundations of his characters, the 
actual counterpart, with philanthropic regard, and 
with the most exact understanding of its combined 
contents. This thoughtfulness, this fond devotion 
to the individual, and again the perfect freedom 
which has intercourse, for a purpose, with this image 
as with an esteemed friend, have, since the old 
times, given a peculiarly rich import to the success- 
ful figures in German dramatic art ; therefore, there 
is in them, a wealth of single traits, a spiritual 
charm, a many-sidedness, through which the com- 
pactness, necessary to dramatic characters, is not 
destroyed, but in its effects, is greatly enhanced. 

The Brutus of Shakespeare is a high-minded 
gentleman, but he has been reared an aristocrat ; he 
is accustomed to read and to think ; he has the 
enthusiasm to venture great things, but not the 
circumspection and prudence to put them through. 
Caesar is a majestic hero who has passed a victor- 
ious, a great life, and who has proved his own 
excellence in a time of selfishness and pretentious 
weakness; but with the lofty position, which he has 
given himself above the heads of his contempo- 
raries, ambition has come upon him, simulation 
and secret fear. The fearless man who has risked 
his life a hundred times and feared nothing but the 
appearance of being afraid, is secretly superstitious, 
variable, exposed to the influence of weaker men. 


/The poet does not hide this ; he lets his characters, 
in every place, say exactly what occurs to them in 
such a business; but he treats their nature, as in 
itself intelligible, and explains nothing ; not because 
it has become distinct to him through cool calcula- 
tion, but because it has arisen with a natural force 
from all the presupposed conditions. 

To the admirer of Shakespeare, this greatness of 
his poetical vision presents here and there diffi- 
culties. In the first part of Julius Ccesar, Casca 
comes prominently into the foreground ; in the 
following action of the piece, not a word is heard 
about him; he and the other conspirators are 
apparently of less consequence to Shakespeare than 
to the audience. But he who observes more care- 
fully, sees the reason for this, and perceives that 
this figure which he made so benevolently promi- 
nent at first, the poet throws aside immediately 
without ado. Indeed, he indicates this in the judg- 
ment which, by way of exception this time, Brutus 
and Cassius let fall concerning Casca. To him and 
to the piece, the man is an insignificant tool. 

In many subordinate roles, the great poet stands 
strikingly silent ; with simple strokes, he moves 
them forward in their embarrassment. The under- 
standing of their nature, which we occasionally 
seek, does not at last remain doubtful, but it is clear 
only by streaks of light falling upon it from without. 
Anne's changes of mind, in Richard III., in the cele- 
brated scene at the bier, are, in a manner, concealed. 
No other poet would dare venture these ; and the 


role, otherwise brief and scanty, would have been one 
of the most difficult. The same thing holds good 
of many figures which, composed of good and evil, 
appear to help forward the action. In the case of 
such roles, the poet trusts much to the actor. 
Through suitable representation, the artist is able to 
transform many apparent and real harshnesses into 
new beauty. Indeed, one often has the feeling, 
that the poet omitted some explanatory accompani- 
ments, because he wrote for a definite actor, whose 
personality was specially adapted to fill the role. 
In other cases, a man is distinctly seen, who, more 
than any other dramatic author, is accustomed as 
actor and spectator to observe men in the better 
society, and v/ho understands how to conceal or let 
peep through, the characteristic weaknesses which 
are behind the forms of good manners. In this style, 
most of his courtiers are fashioned. Through such 
silence, through such abrupt transitions, he affords 
the actor more gaps to fill than any other dramatist 
does. Sometimes his words arc merely like the 
punctured background of embroidery ; but every- 
thing lies in them exactly indicated, felt to be 
adapted to the highest stage effects. Then the 
spectator, surprised by good acting, beholds a rich, 
well-rounded life, where in reading, he saw only 
barren flatness. It once in a while happens to a 
poet, that he really does too little for a character. 
Thus the little role of Cordelia, even with good 
acting, does not come into the proportion which it 
should bear toward the rest of the piece. Much in 


some characters appears strange to us, and in need 
of explanation, which was transparent and easily 
understood by the writer's contemporaries, as a 
reflection of their life and their culture. 

What is greatest in this part, however, is, as has 
already been said, the t reme ndous inipellin^ force 
which operates in his chief characters. The power 
with which they storm upward toward their fate, as^ 
far as the cHmax^f the drama, is irresistible — in al- 
most every one a vigorous life and strong energy of 
passion. And when they have attained the height, 
from which by an overpowering might they are 
drawn downward in confusion, the suspense has been 
relieved for a moment in a portentous deed ; then 
come in several passages, finished situations and in- 
dividual portrayals, the most sublime that the new 
drama has produced. ^The dagger scene and ban- 
quet scene in Macbeth, the bridal night in Romeo and 
Juliet, the hovel scene in Lear, the visit to the 
mother in Hamlet, Coriolanus at the altar of Aufid- 
ius, are examples. Sometimes, the interest of the 
poet in the characters appears to become less from 
this moment ; even in Hamlet, in which the grave- 
yard scene — • however celebrated its melancholy ob- 
servations are — ^and the close decline, when com- 
pared to the tension of the first half. In Coriolafius, 
the two most beautiful scenes lie in the second half 
of the play ; in Othello, the most powerful. This 
last piece, however, has other technical peculiarities. 

If Shakespeare's art of characterization was 
sometimes dark and difficult for the actors of his 


time, it is natural that we perceive his peculiarities 
very clearly. For no greater contrast is conceiv- 
able than his treatment of characters, and that of 
the German tragic poets, Lessing, Goethe, and 
Schiller. While in Shakespeare we are reminded 
through the reservedness of many accessory char- 
acters, that he still stood near the epic time of the 
middle ages, our dramatic characters have, even to 
superfluity, the qualities of a period of lyric cul- 
ture, a continual, broad and agreeable presentation 
of internal conditions upon which the heroes reflect 
with an introspection sometimes dismal ; and they 
use sentences which doubtless make clear the shift- 
ing point of view of the characters in relation to 
the moral order of things. In the German dramas, 
there is nothing dark, and, Kleist excepted, nothing 

Of all the great German poets, Lessing has best 
understood how to represent his characters in the 
surge of intense dramatic ejscitQflient. Among his 
contemporaries in art, the poetic power of the indi- 
vidual is most esteemed according to his characters ; 
and in just this matter of characterization, Lessing 
is great and admirable; the wealth of details, the 
effect of telling, vi^Lexpressipns, whic^^ 
by their beauty as well as by their truth, is, in his 
works, in the limited circle of his tragic figures, 
greater than in Goethe, more frequent than in Schil- 
ler. The number of his dramatic types is not 
great. About the tender, noble, resolute maiden, 
Sara, Emilia, Minna, Recha, and her vacillating 



lover, Melfort, Prince, Tellheim, Templer, the serv- 
ing confidants range themselves ; the dignified 
father, the rival, the intriguer, are all written ac- 
cording to the craft of the troops of players of that 
time. And yet in these very types, the multiformity 
of the variations is wonderful. He is a master in 

the representatioii of such passions as express 

themselves in the life of the middle classes, where 
the struggle toward beauty and nobility of soul 
stands so marvellously near crude desire. And how 
conveniently all is thought out for the actor! No 
one else has so worked out of his very soul for 
him ; what seems^^Jn reading, so restless and theat- 
rically excited, comes into its right proportion only 
through representation on the stage. 

tOnly at single moments, his dialectic of passion 
fails to give the impression of truth, because he 
over-refines it and yields to a pleasure in hair-split- 
ting quibbles. In a few places, his reflections ex- 
pand to where they do not belong ; and sometimes 
in the midst of a profound poetic invention, there 
is an artificial stroke which cools instead of strength- 
ening the impression. Besides much in Nathan the 
Wise, there is an example of this in Sara Sampson, 
III. 3, the passage in which Sara discusses passion- 
ately with herself whether she shall receive her 
father's letter. This stroke is specially to be made 
use of as a brief detail in characterization ; for this 
purpose, also, it is to be treated as a suggestion ; in 
broad elaboration, it would be painful. 

For a long time yet, Lessing's pieces will be a 


fine school for the German actor ; and they will 
still preserve the fond respect of the artist on our 
stage, if only a more manly culture shall make the 
spectator more sensitive to the weakness of the re- 
turn action in Minna von Barnhelm, and Emilia^ Ga- 
Iptti. For the great man erred in this, that violent 
passion suffices to make a poetic character dra- 
matic, since it depends much more on the relation 
in which the passion stands to power of will. His 
passion creates sorrow and excites sometimes in the 
spectator a protesting pity. Stjll his chief charac- 
ters vacillate — though this is not his badge, but 
that of his time — driven hither and thither by 
strong emotion ; and when they are brought to 
commit an ominous deed, this often lacks the high- 
est justification. The tragic development in Sara 
Sampson rests upon this : Melfort perpetrates the 
indignity of appointing a rendezvous between 
his former mistress and Miss Sara ; in Emilia 
Galotti, the maiden is stabbed by her father, out of 

The freedom and the nobility with which the 
poetic characters of the last century express their 
spiritual moods, is not accompanied with a corre- 
sponding mastery of performance ; only too fre- 
quently a time is perceived in which the character, 
even the best, was not firmly drawn out, and hard- 
ened to steel by a strong public opinion, by the 
strong, certain import which public political life 
gives one. Arbitrariness in the moral point of 
view, and sensitive uncertainty, disturb the highest 


artistic effects of even the power of genius. The 
reproach has often been made against Goethe's 
plays that here is only indicated the progress that 
was introduced with dramatic effects by him and 

In the characterizing details of his roles, Goethe 
is not more abundant than Lessing, — Weislingen, 
Clavigo, Egmont, are dramatically even more scanty 
than Melfort, Prince, Tellheim ; — his figures have 
nothing of the violently pulsating life, of the rest- 
less, feverish element, which vibrates in the emo- 
tions of Lessing's characters ; nothing artificial 
disturbs ; the inexhaustible charm of his spirit en- 
nobles even what is lacking. In the first place, 
Goethe and Schiller have opened up to the Germans 
the historical drama, the more elevated style of 
treating characters, which is indispensable to great 
tragic effects, even if Goethe did not attain these 
effects particularly by the power of his characters, 
not by the action, but by the unsurpassable beauty 
and sublimity with which he made the spirit of his 
heroes ring out in words. There especially, where 
from his dramatic persons the hearty sincerity of 
lyric feeling could ring through, is seen, in little 
traits, a magic of poetry which no other German 
has even approximately attained. Thus operates 
the role of Gretchen. 

It is not by chance that such supreme beauty in 
Goethe's female characters is effective ; the men do 
not, as a rule, drive forward ; they are driven ; in- 
deed, they sometimes claim a sympathy on the 


stage, which they do not merit, and appear as good 
friends of the poet himself ; and their good quali- 
ties are known only to him, because they do not 
turn their good side to the society into which he 
has invited them. What makes Faust our greatest 
poetic masterpiece is not its fulness of dramatic 
life, least of all, in the role of Faust himself. If, 
however, the impelling force of Goethe's heroes is 
not powerful enough to make sublime effects and 
mighty conflicts possible, their dramatic movement 
in single scenes is compact, skilful and adapted to 
the stage ; and the connection of the dialogue is 
admirable. For the greatest beauty of Goethe's 
plays is the scenes which have their course between 
two persons. Lessing understands how to occupy 
three persons on the stage, with great effect, in pas- 
sionate counter-play ; but Schiller directs a great 
number with • firmness, and superior certainty. 
Schiller's method of delineating character in his 
youth is very different from the method of his riper 
years. He shows great progress, but not entirely 
without loss. What a transformation from his con- 
ception of beautiful souls which in The Robbers 
he erected into something monstrous, and later into 
the heroic, and at last in Demetrius, into the firm 
compactness of character similar to that of Shakes- 
peare's persons ! 

During more than half a century, the splendor 
and nobility of Schiller's characters have ruled the 
German stage ; and the weak imitators of his style 
have not long understood that the fulness of his 


diction produced so great an effect only because 
beneath it there lies a wealth of dramatic life, cov- 
ered as by a plating of gold. This dramatic life of 
his persons is already very striking in his earliest 
plays. In Love and Intrigue, it won such significant 
expression, that in this direction in later works, an 
advance is not always visible. To verse and the 
more elevated style, he has added at least pithy 
bj^evity, an expression of passion suitable to the 
stage, and many a consideration for the actor. His 
expression of feelings and perceptions becomes con- 
tinually fuller in speech and more eloquent. His 
characters, also, — specially the fully elaborated 
ones, — have that peculiar quality of his time, 
impressively to enunciate to the hearer their 
thought and feeling at many moments in the 
action. And they do it in the manner of highly 
cultured and contemplative men ; for a beautiful, 
and often a finished picture, depends for them on 
passionate feeling; and_ the mood which sounds 
forth from their souls is followed by a meditation, 
an observation,^- as we all know, often of highest 
beality, — through which the moral grounds of the 
excited feeling is made clear, and the confusion, 
the embarrassment of the situation, through an ele- 
vation to a higher standpoint, appears for the 
moment cleared away. It is evident that such a 
method of dramatic creation, of the representation 
of strong passion, is in general not favorable, and 
will certainly in some future period cease to appear 
among our successors. But it is just as certain that 


it perfectly repeats the manner of feeling and per- 
ceiving which was peculiar to the cultured Germans 
at the end of the last century, as no other poetic 
method does, and that upon it rests a part of the 
effect which Schiller's dramas produce to-day upon 
the people ; certainly only a part, for the great- 
ness of the poet lies in this, that he who accords to 
his characters so many resting places, even in 
excited movements, knows how to keep these in 
extreme tension ; ahnost all have a strong, inspired, 
inner life, a content with which they stand securely 
against the outer^jworld. In this embarrassment, 
they sometimes give the impression of somnambu- 
lists, to whom a disturbance from the outer world 
becomes fatal ; thus the Maid, Wallenstein, Max, 
Thekla ; or who at least need a strong shock to their 
inner life, to be brought to a deed, like Tell, even 
Caesar and Manuel. Therefore, "^ the impassioned 
agitation of Schiller's chief characters, is in the last 
analysis, not always dramatic ; but this imperfection 
is often covered by the rich detail and beautiful 
characterization with which he equips the accessory 
figures. Finally, the greatest advance which Ger- 
man art has made through him, is that in a powerful 
tragic material, he makes his persons participants in 
an action which has for its background, not the 
relations of private life, but the highest^interests of 
man, of the state, of faith. His beauty and power 
will always be dangerous to young poets and actors, 
because the inner life of his characters streams 
forth richly in speech. In this, he does so much 


that there remains, often, little for the actor to do ; 
his plays need less from the stage than those of any 
other poet. 



Both the rights and the duty of the poet compel 
him, during his labor, to an incessant conflict with 
the pictures which history, the epic,, and his own 
life offer him. 

It is undeniable that ardor and the charm of 
invention, are frequently first given to the German 
poet by his characters. Such a method of creation 
appears irreconcilable with the old fundamental law 
for the forming of the action, that the action must 
be the first, the characters second. If pleasure in 
the characteristic nature of the hero can cause the 
poet to compose an action for it, the action stands 
under the dominion of the character, is fashioned 
through it, is invented for it. The contradiction is 
only an apparent one ; for to the creating genius, 
the disposition and character of a hero do not 
appear as they do to the historian, who at the end 
of his work draws the results of a life, or as they 
appear to a reader of history, who from the impres- 
sions of different adventures and deeds, gradually 
paints for himself the portrait of a man."" The crea- 
tive power comes into the ardent mind of the poet 
more ^ in such a way, that it brings out vividly 
and with charm, the character of a hero, in single 


*floments of its relations to other men. These 
moments in which the character becomes a living 
thing, are in the work of the epic poet, situations; 
in the work of the dramatist, actions in which the 
hero proceeds with some commotion ; they are the 
foundations of the action, not yet connected and 
full of life ; in them, already the idea of the piece 
lies, probably not yet clarified and separate. But 
it is always a presumption of this first beginning of 
poetic work, that the___chara£JteiL-b.e.CQmes a living, 
aniniated thing under the compulsion of some part 
o_f_the action.. Only under such a presumption is a 
poetic conception of it possible. 

But the process of idealization begins in this 
ivay : the outlines of the historic character, or char- 
acter otherwise deemed of worth, fashion themselves 
according to the demands of the situation which 
has appeared in the soul of the poet. The trait of 
character which is useful to the invented moments of 
the action, becomes a fundamental trait of the being, 
to which all the remaining characteristic peculiari- 
ties are subordinated as supplementary adjuncts. 
Suppose the poet is to grasp the character of Em- 
peror Charles V.; he is able to perceive him poeti- 
cally only when he makes him pass through a defi- 
nite action. The emperor at the parliament of 
Worms, or standing over against the captive king, 
Francis, or in the scene in which the Landgrave of 
Hesse prostrates himself at Halle, or at the mo- 
ment when he receives the news of the threat- 
ened incursion of the elector Moritz, — the emperor 


under the pressure of each of these situations, is 
every time quite a different person ; he retains all 
the features of the historical Charles ; but his ex- 
pression becomes a peculiar one, and so dominates 
the entire picture that it cannot pass for a historic 
portrait. Yet the transformation quickly goes fur- 
ther. To the first poetic vision others are joined ; 
there is a struggle to become a whole, it contains 
beginning and end. And each new member of the 
action, which develops itself, forces upon the char- 
acter something of color and motive, which are nec- 
essary to its understanding. If the action is 
directed in this way, the real character is fully 
transformed under the hand of the poet, according 
to the needs of his idea. Of course the creative 
artist, all this time, during his entire work, carries 
in his soul the features of. the real person, as an 
accessory picture or counter-portrait. He takes 
from this what he can use in details ; but what he 
creates from this, is brought out freely according to 
the demands of his action, and with additions of its 
own is molten to a new mass. 

A striking example is the character of Wallen- 
stein in Schiller's double drama. It is no accident 
that the figure in the poem was fashioned so differ- 
ent from that of the historical picture of the impe- 
rial general. The demands of the action have given 
him his appearance. The poet is interested in the 
historical Wallenstein ; since the death of Gustavus 
Adolphus, this man has become enchanting. He 
has great plans, is a magnificent egotist, and has an 


unclouded conception of the political situation. 
Now a drama the business of which was to portray 
the end of his career, had the fewest possible pre- 
supposed conditions to represent, as the hero be- 
comes a traitor by degrees, through his own guilt, 
and under the stress of his relations. Schiller saw 
in his mind's eye the figure of Wallenstein, as from 
premonitions it seeks to learn its fate (probably the 
first vision), then as it comes in contact with Ques- 
tenberg, then with Wra'ngel, then as the loyal men 
free themselves from him. These were the first 
moments of action. Now it was conceivable that 
such a criminal beginning, if the plans miscarried, 
would show the hero actually weaker, more short- 
sighted, smaller, than the opposing powers. There- 
fore, in order to preserve his greatness and main- 
tain interest in him, a leading, fundamental trait of 
character must be invented for him, which should 
elevate him, and prove him free and independent, 
self-active before what allured him to treason, and 
which should explain how an eminent and superior 
man could be more short-sighted than those about 
him. In the real Wallenstein, there was something 
of this kind to be found ; he was superstitious, be- 
lieved in astrology — but not more than his contem- 
poraries. This trait could be made poetically 
useful. But as a little motive, as a thing to wonder 
at in his character, it would have been of little use ; 
it had to be ennobled, spiritually refined. So there 
arose the image of a thoughtful, inspired, elevated 
man, who in a time of carnage, strides over human 


life and human rights, his eye turned fixedly toward 
the heights where he believes he sees the silent 
rulers of his destiny. And the same sad, dreary 
playing with the inconceivably great, could exalt 
him out of, and above external relations ; for the 
same fundamental characteristic of his being, a cer- 
tain inclination to equivocal and underhand dealing, 
groping attempts and a feeling about, might grad- 
ually entangle him, the freeman, in the net of trea- 
son. Thus a dramatic movement of its own kind 
was found for his inward being. But this character- 
istic of his being was, in its essential nature, yet an 
irrational force ; it held spell-bound ; it placed him, 
for us, near the supernatural ; it remained a great 
anomaly. In order to work tragically, the same 
characteristic must be brought into relation with the 
best and most amiable feelings of his heart. That 
belief in the revelations of powers incomprehensi- 
ble to the hero, consecrates the friendly relations to 
the Piccolomini ; that this same belief is not called 
out, but ominously advanced, by a secret need of 
something to honor, something to trust, and that 
this trust in men, which Wallenstein has confidently 
made clear through his faith; that this faith must 
destroy him, — this brings the strange figure very near 
to our hearts ; it gives the action inner unity ; it 
gives the character greater intensity. In such a 
way, the first-found situations, and the necessity of 
bringing them into an established connection of 
cause and effect, and to round them out to a dram- 
atically effective action, have transformed the his- 


torical character feature by feature. So his adver- 
sary, Octavio, too, has been transformed by the 
tendency to give an inner connection with Wallen- 
stein, of course in dependence on his character. A 
cold intriguer, who draws together the net over those 
who trust him, would not have sufficed ; he must be 
exalted, and be placed intellectually near the chief 
hero ; and if he were conceived as friend of the de- 
luded one, who, — no matter from what sense of duty, 
— surrenders the friend, so it would be to the pur- 
pose to invent a trait of character in his life, which 
should weave his destiny with that of Wallenstein. 
Since there was needed in this gloomy material, a 
warmer life, brighter colors, a succession of gentle 
and touching feelings, the author created Max. 
This poor, unsuspecting child of the camp, was at 
once the opposite of his father and of his general. 
The poet cared too little, with respect to this figure, 
that it stood a fresh, harmless, unspotted nature, in 
contradiction to its own presupposed conditions, and 
to the unbridled life of a soldier, in which it had 
grown up ; for Schiller was not at all careful to give 
motive to anything, if it only served his purpose. 
It satisfied him that this being, through character 
and aptness, could come into a noble and sharply- 
cut contrast with the hero and his opponent; and 
so him, and the corresponding figure of his beloved, 
the poet produced with a fondness which deter- 
mined even the form of the drama. 

Considered on the whole, then, it was not a 
freak, a chance discovery of the poet, which 


formed the character of Wallenstein and his 
counter-player. But of course, these persons, like 
every poetic image, are colored by the personality 
of the poet. And it is characteristic of Schiller to 
imbue all his heroes visibly with the thoughts 
which fill his own soul. This spirited contempla- 
tion, as well as the great, simple lines of a broad 
design, we perceive already as his peculiarity. The 
characteristic of his age was quite otherwise. 
Mastery in meditation and pondering is not, in 
Wallenstein, brought into equilibrium by a decisive 
power of will. That he listened to the voice of the 
stars, which at last becomes the voice of his own 
heart, would be expected. But he is represented as 
dependent on his environment. The Countess 
Terzky directs him ; Max re-directs him ; and the 
accident that Wrangel has disappeared, hinders, 
possibly, a reverse of results. Surely it was Schil- 
ler's purpose to make prominent Wallenstein's lack 
of resolution ; but vacillation is, with us, a disad- 
vantage, to be used for every hero of a play, only as 
a sharp contrast to a sustained power of action. 

if this process of deriving the character from the 
internal necessity of the action seems a result of 
intelligent consideration, it is hardly necessary to 
confess that it does not thus perfect itself in the 
warm soul of the poet. Indeed, here enters during 
many hours, a cool weighing, a supervision, a sup-^ 
plementing, of creative invention ; but the process 
of creation goes on still, in essentials, with a natural 
force in which the same thought is unconsciously 


active with the poet, the same thought which we in 
presence of the completed masterpiece, recognize 
through reflection as the indwelling law of intellec- 
tual production. Not only is the transformation of 
historical characters according to the demands of 
the action, specially shown to be different in different 
authors ; but the same poetic mind does not always 
appear equally free and unembarrassed before all 
its heroes. It is possible that a strong poetic power 
may seek, for some purpose, to represent with special 
care, single historical traits in the life of a hero\ 
In the completed work, then, this care is recognized 
in a peculiar wealth of appropriate features, which 
are valuable for purposes of characterization. 
Shakespeare's Henry VIII. shows a fuller portrait- 
ure than any other heroic figure of that poet's 
plays. This figure is entirely transformed in essen- 
tials, to conform to the needs of the action, and is 
separated by a wide gulf, from the historic Henry. 
But what is valuable for portraiture in the sketch- 
ing, as well as the numerous considerations which 
the poet had for real history, in constructing the 
action, give to the drama a strange coloring. How- 
ever numerous the traits in this richly endowed 
character are, it will seldom appear to an actor as 
the most remunerative role to study. 

For similar reasons, the introduction and use of 
historical heroes whose portraits have become 
specially popular, for example Luther, and Fred- 
erick the Great, is very difficult. The temptation is 
too strong to bring out such well-known traits of 


the historical figure as are not essential to the 
action of the play, and therefore appear accidental. 
This addition to a single figure taken from reality, 
gives it in the midst of persons, the product of 
unfettered invention, a remarkable, a painfully 
pretentious, a repulsive appearance. The desire to 
present the most accurate reflection of the real 
being, will too strongly allure the actor to petty 
delineation. Even the spectator wants an accurate 
portrait, and is perhaps surprised if the other char- 
acters and the action are less effective, because he 
is so strongly reminded of an esteemed friend in 

The requirement is easily given that the dra- 
matic character must be true ; that especially the 
life forces must be in unison with each other, and 
must be felt as belonging together, and that the 
characters must exactly correspond to the whole of 
the action, in respect to coloring and* spiritual im- 
port. But such a rule, so generally expressed, will, 
in many cases, afford the beginning poet no aid, 
where the discord between the ultimate demands of 
his art, and of the historian's art, and even of many 
a poetic truth, prepares secret difficulties. 

It is understood that the poet will faithfully pre- 
serve the deliverances of history, where they are of 
service to him and cause no derangement. For 
our time, so advanced in historical culture and in 
the knowledge of the earlier relations of civilization, 
keeps an eye upon the historical culture of its dra- 
matists. The poet must have care that he do not 


givejus hemes tOQJlttle.Qillie. import of their own 
-time» and that a rnodern perception and feeling in 
the characters do not appear to the educated spec- 
tator in contradiction to the well-known embarrass- 
ments and peculiarities of the life of the soul in 
older times. The young poets easily lend to their 
heroes a knowledge of their own times, a certain 
skill in philosophizing upon the most important 
occurrences, and in finding such points of view for 
their deeds as are current in historical works of 
modern times. It is uncomfortable to hear an old 
emperor of the Franconian or Hohenstaufen line 
express the tendencies of his time, so self-con- 
sciously, so for a purpose, so very shrewdly as, for 
instance, Stenzel and Raumer have represented. 
But not less dangerous is the opposite temptation 
into which poets come through the effort vividly 
to set forth the peculiarities of the past. The re- 
markable, that which deflects from our own nature 
toward older times, easily seems to them as charac- 
teristic and effective for their purpose. Then the 
poet is in danger of smothering the immediate 
interest which we take in the easily intelligible, the 
universally human, and in still greater danger of 
building the course of his action upon singularities 
of that past, on the transitory, which in art gives 
the impression of the accidental and arbitrary. 

And yet there often remains, in an historical piece, 
an inevitable opposition between the dramatically 
arranged characters and the dramatically arranged 
action. At this dangerous point, it is profitable to 


tarry a little. Since it is a duty of the poet who 
uses historical material, to give special attention to 
what we call the color and costume of the time, and 
since not only the characters but the action, too, is 
taken from a distant age, there will certainly be, in 
the idea of the piece and of the action, in the mo- 
tives and situations, much that is not universally 
human and intelligible to every one, but that is ex- 
plained through what is remarkable and character- 
istic of that time. When, for instance, the murder 
of a king is committed by ambitious heroes, as in 
Macbeth or Richard, where the intriguer attacks his 
rival with poison or dagger, where the wife of a 
prince is thrown into water because she springs 
from the middle class, — in these and innumerable 
other cases, the embarrassment and the destiny of 
the heroes must be derived from the represented 
event, from the peculiarities and customs of their 

If these figures belong to a time which has here 
been called the epic, in which man's inward freedom 
has been in reality little developed, in which the 
dependence of the individual upon the example of 
others, upon custom and usage, is much greater, in 
which man's inaer being is not poorer in strong feel- 
ing, but is much poorer in the ability to express it 
by means of speech, — then the characters of the 
drama can not at all represent, in the essential 
thing, such an embarrassment. For since upon the 
sta^e, the effect is produced not by deeds, not by 
beautiful discourse, but by the exJaibitiQa of aneiital 


processes, through which feeling and volition are con- 
centrated into a deed, the dramatic chief characters 
must show a degree pi. freedom of will, a refine- 
ment and a dialectic of passion, which stand in the 
most essential contrast with the actual embarrass- 
ment and naivete of their old prototypes in reality. 
Now the artist would, of course, be easily for- 
given for endowing his people with a fuller, 
stronger, and richer life than they had in the real 
world, if only this richer fulness did not give the 
impression of untruth, because individual conditions 
presupposed for the action, do not tolerate a char- 
acter so constructed. For the action which is de- 
rived from history or from legend, and which 
everywhere betrays the social features, the degree 
of culture, the peculiarities of its time, the poet 
cannot always so easily imbue with a deeper import 
as he can individual characters. The poet may, for 
example, put into the mouth of an oriental the finest 
thoughts, the tenderest feelings of the sweetest pas- 
sion, and yet so color the character that it contains 
the beautiful appearance of poetic truth. But now, 
perhaps the action makes it necessary that this same 
character have the women of his harem drowned in 
sacks, or have them beheaded. Then the contra- 
diction between action and character crops out in- 
evitably. This is, indeed, a difficulty of dramatic 
creation which cannot always be met, even by the 
greatest talent in that direction. Then it requires 
all art to conceal from the spectator the latent con- 
tradiction between the material and the vital needs 


of the action. For this reason, all love scenes in 
historic pieces present peculiar difificulties. Here, 
where we demand the most direct expression of a 
lovely passion, it is a difficult task to give at the 
same time the local color. The poet is most likely 
to succeed if, as in the case of Goethe and Gretchen, 
he can. in such a situation, paint peculiarities of 
character in a stronger color, and even approach the 
borders of genre painting. The quiet struggle of 
the poet with the assumptions of his subject-matter, 
which are undramatic and yet not to be dispensed 
with, occurs in almost every action taken from he- 
roic legend or the older histories. 

In the epic material which the heroic legends of 
the great civilized races offer, the action is already 
artistically arranged, even if according to other than 
dramatic requirements. The life and adventures of 
heroes appear complete, determined by momentous 
deeds ; usually, the sequence of events in which 
they appear acting or enduring, forms a chain of 
considerable length ; but it is possible to detach 
single links for the use of the drama. The heroes 
themselves float indistinctly in great outlines, while 
single characteristic peculiarities are powerfully 
developed. They stand upon the heights of their 
nationality, and display a power and greatness as 
sublime and peculiar as the creative phantasy of a 
people can invent ; and the momentous results of 
their lives are frequently just what the dramatic 
poet seeks, — love and hate, selfish desire, conflict 
and destruction. 


Such materials are further consecrated through 
the fondest recollections of a people ; they were 
once the pride, joy, entertainment of millions. 
After their transformation through a creative popu- 
lar spirit, which lasted for centuries, they were still 
flexible enough to afford to the invention of the 
dramatic poet opportunity for the intensification of 
character, as well as for alterations in the connec- 
tion of the action. Many of them have come to us 
with the elaboration which they underwent in a 
great epic ; the most of them, in their essential 
contents, are not, even according to our culture, 
entirely strange to us. What is here said is more 
or less applicable to the great cycles of Greek 
legends, of the legendary traditions which are inter- 
woven with the earliest history of the Romans, of 
the heroic tales of the Germans, and Latins of the 
Middle Ages. 

Indeed, upon a closer inspection, the characters 
of the epic tradition differ much from the persons 
necessary to the drama. It is true, the heroes of 
Homer and of the Nibelungefi Lied are quite dis- 
tinct personalities. A glance into the interior of a 
human soul, into the surging feeling, is not entirely 
forbidden to epic poets ; indeed they often derive 
the fate of the hero from his character ; they derive 
his ominous deeds from his passions. In the poetry 
of early times, the knowledge of the human heart, 
and the sane judgment which might explain a 
man's destiny from his virtues, faults, and passions, 
are admirable. Not so well developed is the capa- 


bility of representing the details of mental processes. 
The life of the persons expresses itself in little 
anecdotal traits which are often perceived with a 
surprising fineness : what lies before, the quiet labor 
within, what follows after such a deed, the quiet 
effect on the soul, is passed over or quickly dis- 
posed of. 

How a man asserts himself among strangers, is 
victorious, or perishes in a strife with stronger pow- 
ers which stand against him, — to relate this is the 
chief charm ; also, describing high festivals, duels, 
battles, adventures of travel. The expression of 
feeling is most animated where the suffering man 
rebels against the unendurable; but here, too, the 
expression becomes rigid, relatively unanimated, in 
frequently recurring forms, complaints, prayer to 
the gods, perhaps so that the speaker holds up 
another's fate in contrast with his own, or mirrors 
his situation in an elaborate picture. The speech 
of the hero is almost always scanty, simple, monot- 
onous, with the same recurring notes of feeling. 
Thus the soliloquies of Odysseus and of Penelope 
are made in the poem, in which the peculiar life is 
most richly represented, and with the best individual 
traits. Where the inner connecti9n of events rests 
upon the secret plots and the peculiar passion of a 
single person, also where a momentous action is 
developed from the inward being of a character, 
the analysis of the passion is scarcely at hand. 
Kriemhild's plan to take revenge for the murder of 
her husband, all the emotions of soul of this most 


enchanting person, who lives so powerfully in the 
poet's heart, — how brief, and concealed they are in 
the narrative ! It is characteristic that in these 
German poems, the lyric accompaniments, mono- 
logues, complaints, genial observations, are much 
less numerous than in the Odyssey; on the other 
hand, every peculiarity of the chief characters, 
which determines their friendship or hostility to 
others, is elaborated with special vividness and 

But as soon as one conceives of these powerful, 
shadowy forms of legend as human beings, and rep- 
resented to human beings by human beings on the 
stage, they lose the dignity and magnitude of out- 
line, with which the busied imagination has clothed 
them. Their speeches, which within epic narrative 
{produce the most powerful effects, are in the iam- 
bics of the stage, circumscribed, heavy, common- 
place. Their deeds seem to us crude, barbarous, 
dreary, indeed quite impossible ; they seem some- 
times like the old water sprites and goblins of an- 
cient folk-lore, with no human and rational soul. 
The first work of the poet must be a transformation 
and intensifying of characters, by which they may 
become human and intelligible to us. We know 
how attractive such labor was to the Greeks. 

Their relation to the material in their old heroic 
tales was peculiarly favorable. It was bound to 
the life of their present by a thousand threads, by 
local traditions, divine service, and the plastic arts. 
The more liberal culture of their times allowed im- 


portant changes to be made ; allowed what was 
transferred to them to be treated with the utmost 
freedom as raw material. And yet, the history of) 
the Attic tragedy is the history of an inward war-( 
fare, which great poets waged with a realm of ma-| 
terial that so much the more violently resisted thej 
fundamental laws of dramatic creation, as the- 
actor's art developed, and the demand of the audi- > 
ence for a richer i.ullLess.Qlcharacterin^^ 

Euripides is our most instructive example of how 
the Greek tragedy was disorganized by the internal 
opposition between its field of material and the 
greater requisites which the art of representation 
gradually brought into operation. None of his 
great predecessors understands better than he, how 
to imbue the persons of the epic legend with burn- 
ing, soul-devouring passion. None has ventured to 
bring dramatic characters so realistically near the 
sensibility and the understanding of his audience ; 
none has done so much to aid the actor's art. 
Everywhere in his pieces, it is perceived distinctly 
that the actor and the needs of the stage have won 

But the treatment of his roles, effective from 
the actor's point of view, an advance in itself, 
the undeniable right of the acting drama, yet 
contributed in this way to depreciate his pieces. 
What was wild and barbarous in the action must 
strike as repulsive, if persons like the Athenians of 
the poet's ov/n time, were made to think and feel 
and act like ungovernable Scythians. His Electra 


is an oppressed woman from a noble house, who in 
need, has married a poor but worthy peasant, and 
perceives with astonishment that beneath his tunic, 
a brave heart beats ; but we can scarcely believe 
her assurance that she is the daughter of the dead 
Agamemnon. When in Iphigeiiia i?i Aulis, mother 
and daughter, entreating aid, place their hands on 
the chins of Achilles and Agamemnon, and taking 
an oath, according to the custom of their people, 
seek to soften these men ; and when Achilles 
refuses his hand to Clytemnestra, who greets him, 
— this imitative invention was in itself an excellent 
histrionic motive ; but it stood in striking contrast 
to the customary movement of the masked and 
draped persons ; and while this advance of the 
actor's art no doubt powerfully enhanced the effects 
of the scenes, in the eyes of the audience, it reduced 
Iphigenia at the same time to an oppressed Athe- 
nian woman, and made the proposed slaughtering 
of her more strange and untrue. 

In many other cases, the poet yields so far 
to the desire of his player of pathos parts, for 
great song effects, that suddenly and without 
motive, he interrupts the intelligible and agree- 
able course of his action, by illuminating some 
old heroic trait, by ragings, by child murder and 
the like'N. With this intrusion of opera-like and 
spectacular' effects, the causative connection of 
events becomes a subordinate matter, the tragic 
momentum is lost,_the persons become vessels 
for different kinds of feeling; and sportive and 


sophistical, they are freed from any pressure from 
their past lives. In almost every piece, it can be 
felt that the poet finds his material from old legends, 
torn into fragments like a rotten web, through a 
well justified climax of stage effects, and entirely 
unserviceable for the establishing of a unified dram- 
atic action. If pieces from other contemporaries 
had been preserved for us, we should probably rec- 
ognize how others have struggled to secure a 
reconciliation between the given material and the 
vital requisites of their art. It must be repeated : 
what detracts from the poetic greatness of Euri- 
pides is not specially the lack of morale, of the man- 
ners and habits of the time, so peculiar to him ; but 
it is the natural and inevitable disorganization which 
must come into the material used in a drama, but 
not essentially dramatic. Of course, the repeated 
use of the same material contributed to bring the 
disadvantage to light; for the later poets, who 
came upon great dramatic treatment of almost all 
the legends, had pressing occasion to win their audi- 
ences by something new, something charming, and 
they found this in setting a new and higher task for 
the art of the actor ; but this adequate advance 
hastened the destruction of the action, and thereby, 
of the roles. 

We Germans are far more unfavorable to the 
epic legend ; it is for us a world in ruins. Even 
where our science has spread knowledge of it, 
throughout broad circles, as of Homer and The 
Nibelungen, the knowledge and the enjoyment of it 


are the prerogative of the learned. Our stage has 
become much more realistic than that of the 
Greeks, and demands in the characters far richer 
individual traits, an import not painfully wounding 
to our sensibilities. If upon our stage, Tristan had 
married one woman to conceal his relations with 
another woman, the actor of his part would incur 
the danger of being pelted with apples from the 
gallery, as a low-lived monster ; and the bridal 
night of Brunhild, so effectively portrayed in the 
ej)ic, will always awaken on the stage a dangerous 
mood in the minds of the spectators. To us Ger- 
mans, history has become a more important source 
of dramatic subjects than the legend. For a 
majority of the younger poets, the history of the 
Middle Ages is the magic fountain from Vv^hich they 
draw their plays. And yet, in the life of our 
German ancestors, there lies something difficult to 
understand, something that hides the heroes of the 
Middle Ages as with a mist, — indeed still more 
the circumstances of the people, — and that makes a 
princely scion in the time of Otto the Great, less 
transparent than a Roman prince in the time of the 
Second Punic War. The lack of independence of 
the man is far greater ; every individual is more 
strongly influenced by the views and customs of the 
circle in which he moves. The impressions that 
fall upon the soul from without, are quickly covered 
with a new tissue, given a new shape, receive a new 
color, by the exercise of an active imagination. 
Indeed, the activity of sense is incisive, energetic ; 


but the life of nature, the person's own life 
and the impulse from others, are conceived far less 
according to an intelligible consistency of appear- 
ances, than transformed according to the intellect- 
ual demands. The egotism of the individual 
easily rears itself, and assumes the attitude of 
battle ; just as ready is its submission to a superior 
force. The original simplicity of a child may be 
combined in the same man with effective cunning 
and with vices which we are accustomed to con- 
sider the outgrowth of a corrupt civilization. And 
this combination as well as the union of the — • 
apparently — strongest contradictions in feeling and 
way of dealing, are found in the leaders of the 
people as well as among ordinary men and wpmen. 
It is evident that in this way, the judgment concern- 
ing characters, their worth or worthlessness, their 
individual actions, concerning moods and motives of 
actions, is rendered difficult. We are to judge 
th^ man according to the civilization and moral 
feeling of his time, and judge his time according to 
the civilization and morals of our own. 

Let it be tried to make a mental picture of 
the average morality among the people in any 
one of the earlier centuries of the Middle 
Ages, and it will be perceived how difficult 
this is. Could we judge from the penalties 
which the oldest popular justice inflicted upon all 
kinds of abominable crimes, or from the horrible 
practices at the Court of the Merovingians ? There 
was still almost nothing of what we call public 


opinion, and we can say with positiveness that the 
historians give us the impression of men who merit 
confidence. When a royal scion arose in repeated 
rebellion against his father, to what extent was he 
justified or pardoned because of the notions of his 
time,, or his own inmost motives ? Even in the case 
of events which seem very clear and are received 
by us in a dazzling light, we perceive a lack in our 
comprehension, not only because we know too 
little of that time, but also because we do not 
always understand what has come down to us, as 
the dramatic poet must understand It, in its causative 
connections and in its origin in the germ of a human 

Whoever would not more carefully investigate 
the real relations and the historical character of his 
hero, but would only make use of his name, in order 
to provide some events of his time, with bold 
observations on the stage, according to the report of 
a convenient historical work, would avoid every 
difficulty. But he would, in fact, hardly find a 
dramatic material. For this noble mass of dramatic 
material is embedded in the rock of history, and 
almost always only where the private, familiar life 
of the heroic character begins ; there one must 
know how to look for it. 

If one really takes pains to become acquainted 
as well as possible with the heroes of the distant 
past, one discovers in their nature something very 
undramatic. For as it is characteristic of those 
epic poems, it is characteristic also of historical life, 


that the inward struggle of man, his feelings, his 
thoughts, the existence of his will, have found 
from the hero himself no expression ; nor have 
they found expression from an observer. The 
people, its poets, its historians, see the man sharply 
and well at the moment of his deed ; they per- 
ceive — at least the Germans — with great pene- 
tration, what is characteristic of the expressions of 
his life, as connected with emotion, with exaltation, 
with caprice, with disinclination. But only the mo- 
ments in which his life turns toward the external, 
are attractive, enchanting, intelligible, to that time. 
Even speech has but a meager expression for the 
mner processes up to the deed; even passionate ex- 
citement is best enjoyed in the effect which it has 
upon others, and in the light which it throws upon the 
environment. For the intellectual conditions, and the 
reaction which the occurrences have upon the sen- 
sibilities and character of the man, every technique 
of^ representation fails, interest fails. Even the de- 
piction of apparent characteristic peculiarities, as 
well as a full elaboration of the occurrence, is not 
frequent in the narrative ; a comparatively dry 
rehearsal of events is interrupted more or less by 
anecdotes, in which a single vital trait of impor- 
tance to a contemporary, comes to view, — here a 
striking word, there a mighty deed. Preferably in 
such legends, remain the recollections which the 
people preserve of their leader and his deeds. We 
know that till after the Reformation, indeed, till 
after the middle of the last century, this same no- 


tion was not infrequent among educated people, and 
that it has not disappeared yet from among our 

The poverty of dramatic life makes difficult to 
the poet the understanding and the portrayal of 
every hero. But in the temper of our ancestors, 
there was something very peculiar, something which 
made their character at times quite mysterious. 
Already in the most ancient heroic times, they evince 
in character, in speech, in poetry, in customs, the 
inclination to make prevalent a peculiar subtle intro- 
spection and interpretation. Not the things them- 
selves, but what they signify, was the chief thing to 
the ancestors of our thinkers. The images of the 
external world press multitudinously into the soul of 
the old Germans, who are more versatile, quicker to 
recognize, endowed with greater receptivity, than 
any other people on earth. But not in the beauti- 
ful, quiet, clear manner of the Greeks, nor with the 
sure, practical, limited one-sidedness of the Romans, 
did what was received mirror itself again in speech 
and action ; they worked it over slowly and quietly ; 
and what flowed from them had a strong subjective 
coloring, and an addition from their own spirit, 
which we might, in the earliest times, call lyric. 

Therefore the oldest poetry of the Germans stands 
in most striking contrast to the epic of the Greeks ; 
its chief affair is not the rich, full narrative of the 
action, but a sharp relief of single, brilliant traits, 
the connecting of the force to an elaborate image, 
a representation in short, abrupt waves, upon which 


is recognized the excited mind of the narrator. So 
in the characters, the defiant self-seeking, combined 
with a surrender to ideal perceptions, has given to 
the Germans since prehistoric time, a striking im- 
print, and has made themselves, rather than their 
physical power and martial rage, a terror to the 
Romans. No other popular morality has conceived 
of woman so chastely and nobly ; no pagan 
faith has overcome the fear of death, as the German 
faith has ; for to die on the battlefield is the Ger- 
man hero's honor and joy. Through this promi- 
nence of spirit and courage, of ideal perception and 
feeling, the characters of German heroes very early 
receive in life, as in the epic, a less simple compo- 
sition, an original, sometimes a wonderful stamp, 
which lends them, now a remarkable greatness and 
depth, now an adventurous and unreasonable ap- 

Let no one compare the poetic value of deli- 
neation, but the foundations of character, in the 
heroes of the Iliad and the Odyssey, with the heroes 
in the Nibelungen Lied. To the bravest Greek, death 
remained a terror ; the danger of battle weighed him 
down ; it was not dishonorable to him, in one sense, 
to slay a sleeping or unarmed foe ; it was by no 
means the least renown prudently to avoid the dan- 
ger of confliict, and strike from behind an unsus- 
pecting victim. The German hero, on the contrary, 
the same one who from fidelity to his commander 
performs the most atrocious act which a German 
can, and cunningly hits an unarmed man from be- 


hind, — just such a one can avoid death and destruc- 
tion for himself, for his lord and for his posterity, if 
he only announces at the right time that danger is 
at hand. Supernatural beings have prophesied de- 
struction for him and his friends, if the momentous 
journey is continued ; yet he thrusts back into the 
stream the boats which make a return possible ; 
again, at the king's court, where death threatens 
him, a word to the benevolent king, an honest an- 
swer to a serious question, may divert the worst 
from him, but he keeps silent. Still more : he and 
his friends deride and enrage his embittered ene- 
mies ; and with the certain prospect of death, they 
playfully challenge and incite to bloody strife. 

To the Greek, to every other people of antiquity, 
possibly with the exception of the Gauls, such a 
kind of heroism would appear thoroughly unearthly 
and unreasonable ; but it was true German, the wild, 
dark expression, the character of a nation in which 
to the individual, his honor and his pride were of 
more account than his life. Not otherwise is this 
consideration with historical heroes. The ideals 
which rule their lives, however unreasonable they 
were long before the development of chivalry, the 
duty of honor, of fidelity, the feeling of manly 
pride and of one's own dignity, contempt for death, 
and love for individual men, often had a strength 
and power which we can scarcely appreciate, and do 
not always recognize as the governing motive. 

Thus swings the soul of the German in the 
ancient times, in a bondage which to us is often no 


longer recognizable ; pious surrender and longing, 
-superstition, and fidelity to duty, a secret magic 
word, or secret oath, advanced his resolution to 
deeds which we try vainly to explain on reasonable 
grounds taken from our civilization. 

And into such a disposition eventuated, in the 
Middle Ages, the great cycle of moods, laws, and 
fantastic reveries, which surged in with Christendom. 
While on one side, the incisive contrast in which the 
gentle faith of renunciation stood to the rude incli- 
nations of a victorious, war-like people, the contra- 
diction between duty and inclination, between 
external and internal life, increased greatly, it corre- 
sponded on the other side in a striking manner, to 
the necessity of giving one's self entirely to great 
ideas, which the German had long practiced. When 
mstead of Wuotan and the slain Ase-god, the Father 
of the Christians and his only begotten Son came ; 
when in place of the battle-virgins the hosts of The 
Holy One came, the life after death received a new 
consecration and a more sincere significance. And 
to the old powers, which in quietness had controlled 
human volition, to the magic word, to the approach- 
ing animal, to the drinking-bout, to the premoni- 
tions of heathen priests, and the prophesies of wise 
women, came the demands of the new church, its 
blessing and its curse, its vows and its shrifts, the 
priests and the monks. Following close on rude, 
reckless dissipation, came passionate repentance, 
and the strictest asceticism. Near the houses of 
beautiful women, were reared the cloisters of the 


nuns. How, since the dominion of the Christian 
faith, characters have been drawn in their deepest 
principles ; how perception and motives of action 
have become more manifold, more profound and 
artistic, is shown, for instance, by the numerous fig- 
ures from the time of the Saxon Emperor, where 
pious devotion was practiced by the most distin- 
guished persons, and men and women were driven 
hither and thither, now by efforts to win the world 
for themselves, now by the penitent wish to recon- 
cile heaven to themselves. 

Any one who has ever felt the difficulty of 
understanding the men of the Middle Ages, who 
were formed by the thoughtful nature of the Ger- 
mans and by the old church, will complete these 
brief suggestions in every direction. 

Here, therefore, a former example is repeated, 
but from another point of view. What was working 
in the soul of Henry IV. as he stood in the peni- 
tent's frock by the castle wall of Canossa? In 
order that the poet may answer this question by a 
noble art effect, he will first let the historian tell 
what he knows about it; and he will learn with 
astonishment how different the conception of the 
situation, how uncertain and scanty the received 
account, and how troublesome and difficult it is to 
sound the heart of his hero. 

That he did not go to the pope with inward con- 
trition, this haughty powerful man, who hated, in 
the Romish priest, his most dangerous opponent, is 
easy to comprehend. That he had long revolved. 


in his rebellious mind the bitter necessity of this 
step, and had not put on the penitent's garment 
without a grim mental reservation, is to be assumed. 
But he came just as little as a crafty politician, who 
humiliated himself by a cool calculation, because 
he perceived a false step of his opponent, and saw 
growing from this surrender, the fruits of future 
victory. For Henry was a Christian of the Middle 
Ages. However intensely he hated Gregory, the 
curse of the church certainly had in it something 
uncomfortable, something frightful ; to his God, and 
to the heaven of the Christian, there was no other 
way than through the church. Gregory sat on the 
bridge to heaven ; and if he forbade, the angels, the 
new battle-virgins of the Christian, would not lead 
the dead warrior before the throne of the Father, 
but would thrust him into the abyss of the old 
dragon. The pope writes that the emperor has 
wept much, and besought his mercy, and that the 
attendants of the pope have with sobs and tears 
witnessed the emperor's penance. Was the emperor 
firm in the faith that the pope had the right thus to 
torment him? This influence of the ecclesiastical 
conscience upon worldly aims, this adventurous and 
uncertain mingling of opposites, now pride, higher 
thought, enduring, imperturbable power, which we 
consider almost superhuman, and again a lament- 
able emptiness and weakness, which .seems con- 
temptible to us, — this offers the poet no easily 
accomplished task. Of course he is master of his 
subject ; he can transform the historical character 


at will, according to the needs of his work. It is 
possible that the real Henry stood before the wall of 
Canossa, like an ungoverncd and vicious knave, who 
was to undergo a severe chastising. What did the 
poet care for that? But just as binding as possible, 
is his duty to fathom to its deepest recesses the real 
nature of the emperor. Not only the sad penitent, 
but the cold politician, will become falsities under 
such an examination. The poet has to form the 
character of the prince out of component parts, for 
which he does not find in his own mind the corre- 
sponding intuitions, and which he has to convert 
into intuitions and warm perceptions through reflec- 
tion. There are few princes of the Middle Ages 
who do not appear, in the essential occurrences of 
their lives, and measured by the standard of our 
civilization and habits, either as short-sighted 
dunces, or conscienceless scoundrels — not seldom 
as both. The historian performs his difficult task 
in his unpretentious manner; he seeks to under- 
stand the connections of their time, and tells us 
honestly where his understanding ceases. The poet 
draws these adventurous persons imperatively into 
the clear light of our day ; he fills their being with 
warm life ; he endows them with modern speech, 
with a good share of reason and of the culture of 
our times ; and he forgets that the action in which 
he has them move, is taken from a former age and 
can not be so much transformed, and that it accords 
extremely ill with the higher human endowments 
given his characters. 


The historical materials from the dim past, and 
from the little known periods of our national 
existence, allure our young poets, as once the epic 
materials allured Euripides : they mislead to the 
spectacular, as the epic did to declamation. Now 
their figures are not for this reason to be laid 
aside as useless ; but the poet will ask whether the 
transformation which he is bound to undertake with 
every character of former times, is not possibly so 
great that all similarity to the historical person 
disappears, and whether the irrepressible presump- 
tions of the action are not inconsistent with his free 
creation of character. This will certainly be some- 
times the case. 

Not less worthy of note is the conflict which the 
poet must wage in his roles, with what as nature, he 
has to idealize. His task is to give greater expres- 
sion to greater passion ; as an adjunct in this, he has 
the actor, — the passionate emphasis of the voice, 
of figure, of pantomime, of gesture. Despite all 
this abundant means, he may almost never, and just 
in the more exalted moments of passion, use the 
corresponding appearances of real life without great 
changes, however strongly and beautifully and 
effectively, in powerful natures, a natural passion 
expresses itself, and however great an impression it 
may make on the accidental observer. On the 
stage, the appearance is to have its effect in the 
distance. Even in a little theater, a comparatively 
large auditorium is to be filled with the expression 
of passion. Just the finest accents, but of real feel- 


ing in the voice, glance, even in carriage, are, on 
account of the distance, not at all so distinct to the 
audience and enchanting as they are in real life. 
And further, it is the task of the drama to make 
such laboring of passion intelligible and impressive 
at every moment ; for it is n ot the passion itself 
vyhich produces the effect, but the dramatic portrayal 
of it by means of speech and action ; it must always 
be the endeavor of the characters on the stage to 
turn their inward being toward the spectator. The 
poet must then make choice for effects. The 
transient thoughts that flit through the mind of the 
impassioned one, conclusions arrived at with the 
rapidity of lightning, the varying emotions of the 
soul in great numbers, which now less distinctly, 
now more animatedly, come into view, — to all these 
in their disordered fulness, their rapid course, art 
can not often afford even imperfect expression. 
For every idea, for every strong emotion, there is 
needed a certain number of words and gestures ; 
their union by means of transition or sharp con- 
trast demands a purposed play ; every single 
moment presents itself more broadly, a careful 
progressive rise must take place,— in order that 
the highest effect be attained. | Thus dramatic art 
must constantly listen to nature, but must by no 
means copy; nay, it_must mingle with the. single 
features which nature affords, something else that 
nature does not offer, and this as well in the 
speeches as in the acting. JFor poetic composition, 
one of the most ready helps is the wit of com- 


parison, the color of the picture. / This oldest 
ornament of speech comes by natural necessity, 
everywhere, into the discourse of men, where the 
soul, in a lofty mood freely raises her wing. To the 
inspired orator, as to the poet, to every people, to 
every civilization, comparison and imagery are the 
immediate expressions of excited feeling, of power- 
ful, spirited creation. But now it is the duty of the 
poet to represent with the greatest freedom and 
elevation the greatest embarrassment of his persons 
in their passions, [jit will also be inevitable that his 
characters, even in the moments of highest passion, 
evince far more of this inward creative power of 
speech, of unrestrained power and mastery of lan- 
guage, expression, and gesture, than they ever do in 
natural circumstances. This freedom of soul is 
necessary to them, a,nd the spectator demands it. 
And yet here lies the great danger to the poet, that! 
his style may seem too artificial for the passion./ 
Our greatest poets have often used poetic means 
and devices with such lavishness in moments of 
intense passion, as to offend good taste. '^ It is well 
known that Shakespeare yields too often to the 
inclination of his time, and in his pathetic passages 
makes use of mythological comparisons and 
splendid imagery ; on this account, there often 
appears in the language of his characters a bombast 
which we have to forget in the multitude of beauti- 
ful significant features, idealized from nature. The 
great poets stand nearer German culture ; but even 
in their works, — among others Schiller's, — a fine 


rhetoric intrudes upon pathos, which is not propi- 
tious to an unbiased apprehension. 

If in every expression of passion, there is percep- 
tible a contradiction between nature and art, this 
occurs most in the case of the most secret and 
genuine feelings. Here again, the love scene must 
be once more recalled. In real life, the expression 
of this sweet passion which presses from one soul to 
another, is so tender, is in so few words, is so 
modest, that in art it brings one into despair. A 
quick gleam from the eye, a soft tone of the voice, 
may express more to the loved one than all speech. 
Just the immediate expression of tender feeling 
needs words only as an accessory ; the moments of 
the so-called declaration of love, frequently almost 
without words and with action scarcely visible, will 
escape the notice of one standing at a distance. 
Only through numerous devices can the highest 
skill of the poet and the actor replace for the spec- 
tator the eloquent silence and the beautiful secret 
vibrations of passion. Right here, indeed, poets and 
actors must use an abundance of speech and action 
which is improbable in nature. The actor may, of 
course, enhance and supplement the l^jguage of the 
poet, through tone and gesture ; but that he secure 
these enhancing effects, the language of the poet 
must lead him, and to a high degree in conformity 
with a purpose, furnish the motive for the effects-o£ 
the actor's art ; and therefore the actor requires also 
the creative activity of the poet, which gives, not an 


imitation of reality, but something quite different, — 
the artistic. 

In the face of these difficulties which the expres- 
sion of higher passion offers, if one dared to advise 
the poet, the best advice would be, tojremainas ^ex- 
act and true to life as his talents would allow, to 
compress the single moments to a strong climax, and 
to expand as little as possible the embellishments of 
reflection, comparison, imagery. For while these 
give fulness to the lines, they too easily cover up 
desultoriness and poverty of invention. If every 
where, constant and exact observation of nature is 
indispensable to the dramatic poet, it is most indis 
pensable in the delineation of violent emotion ; butl 
the poet must know most surely that he is here-\ 
least of all to imitate nature. 

Another difficulty arises for the poet through the 
inner contrast into which his art of creation comes, 
with the art of his colleague, the actor. The poet 
do«es not perceive the perturbations of his characters 
as the reader perceives the words of the drama, nor 
as the actor apprehends his role. Character, scene, 
every force, is presented to him in the mighty rap- 
ture of creation, in such a way that the significance 
of each for the whole is perfectly clear ; while all 
that has gone before, all that comes after, vibrate as 
if in a gentle harmony in his mind. What reveals' 
the real life of his characters, what holds spell- 
bound in the action, the effect of the scenes, — h^ 
perceives as alluring, and powerfully so, perhaps, 
long before they have found expression in words. 


The expression which he creates for them, often 
gives back but imperfectly to his own apprehen- 
sion, the beauty and might with which they were 
endowed in his mind. While he is concerned in 
embodying in words the spiritual essence of his 
persons, and in creating for .them an outward form, 
the effect of the words which he writes being only 
imperfectly clear, he accustoms himself but gradu- 
ally to their sound ; moreover, the enclosed space 
of the stage, the external appearance of his persons, 
the effect of a gesture, of a tone of voice, he feels 
only incidentally, now more, now less distinctly. 
On the whole, he who creates through speech, 
stands nearer to the demands of the reader or the 
hearer, than to the demands of the actor, especially 
if he himself is not proficient in the actor's art. 
The effects which he produces, then, correspond 
now more to the requirements of the reader, now 
more to those of the actor. 

But the poet of greater feeling and perception 
must give a full and strong impression through 
speech; and the effects which one soul produces on 
another are brought about thus : its internal power 
breaks forth in a number of speech-waves, which rise 
higher and mightier, and beat upon the receptive 
mind. This demands a certain time, and with 
briefer, or more powerful treatment, a certain 
breadth of elaboration. The actor, on the other 
hand, with his art, requires the stream of convinc- 
ing, seductive speech. Indeed, he needs the strong 
expression of passion, not always through speech. 


His aim is to attain something through other means, 
the effectiveness of which the poet does not appre- 
hend so clearly. By mean's of a gesture of fright, 
of hatred, of contempt, he may often express more 
than the poet can with the most effective words. 
Impatient, he will always feel the temptation to 
make use of the best means of his own art. The 
laws of stage effects are for him and the audience 
sometimes different from those which are found in 
the soul of the creating poet. In the struggle of 
passion, a word, a glance, is often specially adapted 
to bring out the strongest pantomime effects for the 
actor ; all the subsequent mental processes ex- 
pressed in his speech, however poetically true in 
themselves, will appear to him and to his audience 
only as a lengthening. In this way, much is un- 
necessary in acting which is fully justified in writing 
and reading. 

That the actor, for his part, has the task of care- 
fully following the poet, and as much as possible 
working out the poet's purposed effects, even with 
self-renunciation, is a matter of course. But not 
seldom his right is greater than that of the poet's 
lines, for the reason that his equipment, voice, in- 
vention, technique, even his nerves, place restric- 
tions upon him which the poet does not find cogent. 
But with this right which the actor has, in view of 
his labor, the poet will have the more difficulties to 
overcome the further he keeps aloof from the stage, 
and the less distinct to him in single moments of his 
creative activity is his stage-picture of the charac- 


ters. He will also be obliged to make clear to him- 
self through observation and reflection, how he may 
plan and present his characters rightly to the actor 
for the best stage effects. He must not, however, 
always conform to the actor's art. And since it is 
his duty, at his desk, to be as much as possible the 
guardian of the histrionic artist, he must study most 
earnestly the essential laws of histrionic art. 



The same laws which have been enumerated for 
the action, apply also to the characters of the stage. 
These, too, must possess dramatic unity, probability, 
iiiiportaiii::£.and magnitude, and be fitted for a strong 
and progressive expression of dramatic life. 

The persons of the drama must exhibit only that 
side of human nature, by_whiGh the action is ad- 
vanced and given motive. No miser, no hypocrite, 
is always miserly, always hypocritical ; no scoundrel 
betrays his degraded soul in every act he performs ; 
no one always acts consistently ; f\\Q thoughts 
which contend with each other in the human mind, 
are of infinite variety ; the directions in which 
spirit, mind, volition, express themselves, are infi- 
nitely different. But the drama, like every form of 
art, has no right to select with freedom from the 
sum of all the things which characterize a man's 
life, and combine them ; o nly wh at sej-ves the.Ldea 
and the action belongs to art. But only such se- 


l^cted impulses in the character as belong together 
and are easily intelligible, will serve the action. 
Richard III. of England was a bloody and unscru- 
pulous despot ; but he was not such always nor 
toward everyone ; he was, besides, a politic prince ; 
and it is possible, according to history, that his 
reign appears, in some directions, a blessing to En- 
gland. If a poet sets himself the task of showing 
the bloody rigor and falseness of a highly endowed, 
misanthropic hero-nature, embodied in this char- 
acter, it is understood that the traits of moderation 
and perhaps of benevolence, which are found to 
some extent in the life of this prince, the poet dare 
accept, only so far as they support the fundamental 
trait of character needed. for this idea. And_as the 
number of characterizing moments which he can 
introduce at all, is, in proportion to the reality, ex- 
ceedmgiy__small, every individual trait bears an 
entirely different relation to the aggregate than it 
bears in reality. But whatever is necessary in the 
chief figures is of value in the accessory figures. 
It is understood that the texture of their souls must 
be so much the more easily understood, the less the 
space which the poet has left for them. The dra- 
matic poet will scarcely commit great mistakes in 
this. Even to unskilled talent, the one side from 
which it has to illuminate its figures, is accustomed 
to be very distinct. 

The first law, that of unity, admits of still an- 
other application to the characters : The drama 
must have only one chief hero, about whom all the 


persons, however gre'at their number, arrange them- 
selves Jn^jlifEerent gradations. The__drama has a 
thoroughly rnonarchic arrangement; the unity of 
its action is essentially dependent on this, that the 
action is perfected about one dominant charactej:.^^ 
But also for a sure effect, the first condition is that 
the interest of the spectator must be directed mostly 
toward one person, and he must learn as early as 
possible who is to occupy his attention before all 
other characters. Since the highest dramatic pro- 
cesses of but few persons can be exhibited in broad 
elaboration, the number of great roles is limited 
to a few ; and it is a common experience that noth- 
ing is more painful to the hearer than the uncer- 
tainty as to what interest he should give to each of 
these important persons. It is also one practical 
advantage of the piece to direct its effects toward a 
single middle point. 

Whoever deviates from this fundamental law 
must do so with the keen perception that he sur- 
renders a great advantage ; and if his subject mat- 
ter makes this surrender necessary, he must, in 
doubt, ask himself whether the uncertainty thus 
arising in the effects, will be counterbalanced by 
other dramatic advantages. 

xOur drama has for a long time entertained one 
exception. Where the relations of two lovers form 
the essentials of an action, these persons, bound by 
spiritual ties, are looked upon as enjoying equal privi- 
leges, and are conceived as a unit. Thus in Romeo 
and Juliet, Love mid Intrigue, The Piccolomini, also in 


Troilus and Cressida. But even in this case, the poet 
will do well to accord to one of the two the chief 
part in the action ; and where this is not possible, he 
should base the inner development of the two upon 
corresponding motives. In Shakespeare, Romeo is 
the leading character in the first half of the play ; 
in the second half, Juliet leads. In Antony and Cle- 
opatra^ Antony is the leading character up to his 

But while in Shakespeare, Lessing, Goethe, the 
chief hero is unmistakable, Schiller, not to the ad- 
vantage of his construction, has a peculiar inclina- 
tion toward double heroes ; this appears as early as 
The Robbers ; and in his later years, after his ac- 
quaintance with the ancient drama, they become still 
more striking, — Carlos and Posa; Mary and Eliza- 
beth; the hostile brothers. Max and Wallenstein; 
Tell, the Swiss, and Rudenz. This inclination is 
easily explained. Schiller's pathetic strain had only 
been strengthened by his acquaintance with Greek 
tragedy ; not seldom in his dramas, it comes into 
contradiction with a greater poetic quality, dramatic 
energy. So under his hand, there were disjoined 
two tendencies of his own nature, which were trans- 
ferred to two separate persons, one of whom 
received the pathetic part, the other the leading 
part of the action, the second sometimes also receiv- 
ing a share in the pathos. How this division ren- 
dered less prominent the first hero, who was the 
pathetic character, has already been explained. 

Another error the poet finds it more difficult to 


avoid. The share of the persons in the advance- 
ment of the action must be so arranged, that what 
they do shall have its logical basis in an easily un- 
derstood trait of character, and. not in a subtlety of 
judgment, or in a peculiarity which seems accidental. 
Above all, a decided advancement of the action must 
not proceed from the marvellous in a character, 
which has no motive, or from such weaknesses as in 
the eyes o^ our observant audiences lessen the 
enrapturing impression. Thus the catastrophe in 
Etnilia Galotti, is, according to our notion, no longer 
tragic in a high degree, because from Emilia and 
her father, we demand a more virile courage. That 
the daughter fears being debauched, and the father, 
instead of seeking an escape from the castle for 
himself and his daughter, dagger in hand, despairs 
because the reputation of the daughter is already in- 
jured by the abduction, — this wounds our sensibili- 
ties, however beautifully the character of Odoardo is 
fashioned for this catastrophe. In Lessing's time, 
the ideas of the public regarding the power and arbi- 
trariness of royal rulers were so vivid, that the situa- 
tion had a far different effect than it has now. And 
yet with such assumptions, he could have motived 
the murder of the daughter more powerfully. The 
spectator must be thoroughly convinced that any 
escape for the Galotti from the castle, is impossible. 
The father must seek it with the last accession of 
power, he must thwart the prince by violence. For 
there remains still the greater disadvantage, that it 
was much more to Odoardo's advantage to kill the 


rascally prince, than his own innocent daughter. 
That would have been more according to custom, 
and humanly truer. Of course this tragedy could 
not bear such an ending. And this is an evidence 
that what is worthy of consideration in the piece, 
lies deeper than the catastrophe. The German 
atmosphere in which the strong spirit of Lessing 
struggled, still renders the creation of great tragic 
effect difficult. The brave Germans, like noble 
Romans of the imperial time, thought, " Death 
makes free ?"^^ 

When it is unavoidable to represent the hero, in 
an essential respect shortsighted and limited in the 
face of his surroundings, the oppressive burden 
must be lightened^y the complementary side of his 
personality, which turns toward him an increased 
degree of respect and sympathy. This is success- 
fully done in Goetz von Berlichinge?i and Wallenstein ; 
it was tried, but did not succeed in Egmont. 

The Greek author of The Poetics prescribed that 
the characters of the heroes, in order to awaken 
interest must be composed of good and evil ; the 
law is still valid to-day, and applicable to the 
changed conditions of our stage. The figures, and 
all the material from which the German stage makes, 
preferably, its poetical characters, are from real life. 
Where the poet deems figures from legend worthy 
of use, he attempts more or less successfully to 
endow them with a more liberal humanity and a 
richer life, which invites to the idealization of his- 
torical characters or persons in the real world. And 

■" ; 


the poet will be able to use every character for his 
drama, that makes the repxesentation of strong 
dramatic processes possible. Absolute and un- 
changeable goodness or evil are hereby excluded for 
chief characters. Art, in itself, lays no further 
restriction upon him ; for a character which allows 
the rnost po_werfullydramatic..processes to be richly-^ 
represented in itself, will be an artistic picture/ 
whatever may be its relation to the moral import, or 
to the social views of the hearer. _ 

The choice of the poet is also limited, especially 
through his own manly character, taste, morality, 
habits, and also through his regard for the ideal 
listener, — the public. It must be of great conse- 
quence to him, to inspire his audience with admira- 
tion for his hero, and to change his audience to 
fellow players, following the variations and mental 
processes which he brings to view. In order to 
maintain this sympathy, he is compelled to choqse 
personages which not only enrapture by the import- 
ance, magnitude, and power of their characters, but 
win to themselves the sentiment and taste of the 

The poet must also understand the secret of 
ennobling and beautifying for his contemporaries 
the frightful, horrible, the base and repulsive in 
a character, by means of the combination which he 
gives it. The question for the German stage, how 
much dare the poet venture, is no longer doubtful 
since Shakespeare's time. The magic of his creative 
power works, perhaps, on everyone who himself 


attempts to poetize, most powerfully through the 
completeness which he gave to his villains. Richard 
III. and lago are models, showing how beautifully 
the poet can fashion malevolence and wickedness. 
The strong vital energy, and the ironical freedom 
in which they play with life, attaches to them a 
most significant element which compels an unwilling 
admiration. Both are scoundrels with no addition 
of a qualifying circumstance. But iji^the self- 
consciousness of superior natures, they control 
those about them with an almost superhuman 
power and security. On close inspection, they 
appear to be very differently constituted. Rkhard 
is the son of a wild time full of terror, where duty 
passed for naught, and ambition ventured every- 
thing. The incongruity between an iron spirit and 
a deformed body, became for him the foundation of 
a cold misanthropy. / He is a practical man, and a 
prince, who does only such evil as is useful to him, 
aad is merciless with a wild caprice. lago is far 
more a devil. It is his joy to act wickedly ; he 
perpetrates wickedness with most sincere delight. 
He gives to himself and to others as his motive for 
destroying the Moor, that Othello has preferred 
another officer to him, and has been intimate with 
his wife. All this is untrue ; and so far as it con- 
tains any truth, it is not the ultimate ground of his 
treachery. His chief tendency is the ardent desireil 
of a creative power to make attacks, to stir upjl 
quarrels, especially for his own use and advantage.!' 
He was more difficult, therefore, to be made worthy 


of the drama than was the prince, the general, to 
whom environment, and his great purpose gave a 
certain importance and greatness ; and therefore 
Shakespeare endowed him more copiously with 
humor, the beautifying mood of the soul, which has 
the single advantage of throwing upon even the 
hateful and low a charming light. 

The basis of humor is the unrestricted freedom , / 
of a well-endowed mind, which displays its superior^ 
power to those about it in sportive caprice. The 
epic poet who in his own breast, bears inclination 
and disposition for these effects, may exhibit them 
in a twofold manner in the creatures of his art : he 
can make these humorists, or he can exercise his own 
humor on them. The tragic poet, who speaks only 
through his heroes^ niay of course, do only the first, 
because he communicates his humor to them. This 
modern intellectual inclination continually produces 
on the hearer a mighty, at the same time an 
enchanting and a liberating influence. For the 
serious drama, its employment has a difficulty. 
The conditions of humor are intellectual liberty, 
quiet, deliberation ; the condition of the dramatic 
hero is embarrassment, storm, strong excitement./ 
The secure and comfortable playing with events is 
unfavorable to the advance of an excited action ; it 
almost inevitably draws out into a situation the ^^ 
scene into which it intrudes. Where, therefore, hu- 
mor enters with a chief character, in order that this 
character may be raised above others, it must have 
other characteristics which prevent it from quietly 


delaying. It must have strong impelling force, and 
beyond this, a powerfully forward-moving action. 

y Now, it is possible so to guide the humor of the 
drama that it does not exclude violent commotions 
of the soul, so that an unobstructed view of one's 
own and another's fate is enhanced, through a 
corresponding capability of the character to express 
greater passion. But this is not to be learned. 

And the union of a profound intellect with the 

' confidence of a secure power and with superior 
fancy, is a gift which has hardly been conferred 
upon an author of serious dramas in Germany. 
When one receives such a gift, he uses it without 
care, without pains, with certainty ; he makes him- 
self laws, and rules, and compels his admiring con- 
temporaries to follow him. He who has not this 
gift strives for it in vain, and tries in vain to paint 
into his scenes something of that embellishing 
brilliancy with which genius floods everything. 

^, It was explained above, how in our drama, J:he 
characters must give motive to the progress of the 
action, and how the fate which rules them must 
not be anything else than the course of events 
brought about by the personality of these charac- 
ters, — a course which must be conceived every 

\ moment by the hearer as reasonable and probable, 

■ however surprising individual moments may come 

Jo him. Right here the poet evinces his power if 

he knows how to fashion his characters deep and 

great, and conduct his action with elevated thought^, 

and if he does not offer as a beautiful invention 


what lies upon the beaten track of ordinary under- 
standing, and what is next to a shallow judgment. 
And with a purpose, it may be emphatically 
repeated, that every_ drama must be a firmly con- 
nected structure in which the connection between 

cause and effect form the iron clasps, and that what 
is irrational can, as such, have no important place at 
all in the modern drama. 

But now mention must be made of an accessory 
motive for the advancement of the action, a motive 
which was not mentioned in the former section. In 
individual cases, the characters may receive as a 
fellow-player, a shadow, which is not gladly wel- 
comed on our stage — the niischance. When what 
is being developed has been, in its essentials, 
grounded in the impelling personality of the char- 
acters, then it may become comprehensible that in 
the action, a single man is not able to guide with 
certainty the connection of events. When in King 
Lear, the villain, Edmund ; when in A?itigone, the 
despot, Creon, recall the death sentences which they 
have pronounced, it appears as an accident that 
these same sentences have been executed so quickly 
and in such an unexpected manner. When in Wal- 
Icnstein, the hero will abrogate the treaty which he 
has concluded with Wrangel, it is strongly empha- 
sized with what incomprehensible suddenness the 
Swede has disappeared. When in Romeo and Jtiliet^ 
the news of Juliet's death reaches Romeo before the 
message of Friar Laurence, the accident appears of 
decisive importance in the course of the piece. But 


this intrusion of a circumstance not counted upon, 
however striking it may be, is at bottom no motive 
forcing itself in from without ; it is only the result 
of a characteristic deed of the hero. 

The characters have caused a portentous decision 
to depend on a course of events which they can no 
longer govern. The trap had already fallen, which 
Edmund had set for the death of Cordelia ; Creon 
had caused Antigone to be locked up in the burial 
vault; whether the defiant woman awaited starvei- 
tion or chose a death for herself — of this he had no 
longer the direction ; Wallenstein has given his fate 
into the hands of an enemy ; that Wrangel had 
good grounds to make the resolve of the waverer 

irrevocable, was evident. Romeo and Juliet have 
come into the condition, that the possibility of their 
saving their lives depends on a frightful, criminal, 
and extremely venturesome measure, which the 
priest had thought of in his anguish. In this and 
similar cases, the accident enters only Because the 
characters under overpowering pressure have 
already lost the power of choice. For the poet 
and his piece, it is no longer accident, that is, not 
something extraneous which bursts asunder the 
joints of the action ; but it is a motive like every 
other, deduced from the peculiarities of the charac- 
ters ; in its ultimate analysis, it is a necessary con- 
sequence of preceding events. This not ineffective 

Ineans is to be used with prudence, and is to be 
grounded in the nature of the characters and in the 
actual situation. 


For guiding the characters through individual 
acts, a few technical rules are to be observed, as has 
already been said. They will be brought forward, 
in this place, briefly, once more. Every single 
person of the drama is to show the fundamental 
traits of his character, as distinctly, as quickly, and 
as attractively as possible ; and where an artistic 
effect lies in a concealed play of single roles, the 
audience must be, to a certain extent, the confidant 
of the poet. The later a new characteristic trait 
enters the action, the more carefully must the 
motive for it be laid in the beginning, in order 
that the spectator may enjoy to the full extent 
the pleasure of the surprise, and perceive that it 
corresponds exactly to the constitution of the 

Brief touches are the rule, where the chief char- 
acters have to present themselves at the beginning 
of the play. As a matter of course, the significant 
single characteristics are not to be introduced in an 
anecdotal manner, but to be interwoven with the 
action, — except that little episodes, or a modest 
painting of a situation, are thus allowed. The 
scenes at the beginningj^which give color to the 
piece, which prepare the moods, must also at the 
same time present the ground texture of the hero. 
Shakespeare manages this with wonderful skill. Be- 
fore his heroes are entangled in the difficulties of a 
tragic action, he likes to let them, while still unem- 
barrassed in the introduction scenes, express the 
trend of their character most distinctly and charac- 


teristically ; Hamlet, Othello, Romeo, Brutus, Rich- 
ard III., illustrate. 

It is not an accident that Goethe's heroes, — 
Faust, both parts, Iphigenia, even Gotz, — are intro- 
duced in soliloquy, or in quiet conversation like 
Tasso, Clavigo. Egmont enters first in the second 
act. Lessing follows the old custom of his stage, 
of introducing his heroes by means of their inti- 
mates ; but Schiller again lays great stress on the 
characteristic representation of unembarrassed 
heroes. In the trilogy of Wallenstein, the nature of 
the hero is first presented in rich mirrorings in The 
Camp, and in the first act of The Piccolomini ; but 
Wallenstein himself appears, introduced by the as- 
trologer, in the circle of his family and friends, out 
of which during the entire play, he is seldom re- 

It has already been said that new roles in the 
second half of the drama, the return action, require 
a peculiar treatment. The spectator is inclined to 
consider with mistrust the leading of the roles 
through new persons. The poet must take care not 
to distract or make impatient. Therefore the char- 
acters of the second part require a richer endow- 
ment, cltTractive presentation, most effective detailed 
delineation, in compact treatment. Excellent ex- 
amples of elaboration are, besides those already 
named, Deveroux and Macdonald in Wallemtein, 
while Buttler, in the same piece, serves as model 
of a character whose active participation is saved 
for the last part, — not towed as a dead weight 


through the first, but interwoven with its internal 

Finally, the unpracticed playwright must take 
care, when it is necessary to have another person 
talk abouTEishero^tp attach no great. value to such 
exposition of the character ; and willjHilj, when it 
is entirely to the purpose, allow the hero to express 
a judgment concerning himself ; but all that others 
say of a person, or what he says of himself, has 
little weight in comparison with what is seen coming- 
into being, growing in counter-play with others, in 
the connections of the action. Indeed, the effect 
may be fatal if the zealous poet commends his 
heroes as sublime, as joyous, as shrewd, while in 
the piece, in spite of the poet's wish, it is not 
accorded them to show these qualities. 

The conducting of characters through the scenes 
must occur with strict regard to the tableaux, or 
grouping, and the demands of scenic representation. 
For even in the conducting~6f a scene, the actor, as 
opposed to the poet, makes his demands prevail, 
and the poet does well to heed them. He stands 
in a delicate relation with his actor, which places 
obligations on both sides. In the essential thing, 
the aim of both is the same. Both exercise their 
creative power upon the same material ; the poet as 
a silent guide, the actor as an executive power. 
And the poet will soon learn that the German actor, 
on the whole, adapts himself with a ready fervor 
and zeal to the effects of the poet, and seldom bur- 
dens him with claims, throuo^h which he thinks to 


place his own art in the foreground to the disad- 
vantage of the poetry. Since, indeed, the individual 
actor has in his eye the effects of his role, and the 
poet thinks of the aggregate effect, in many cases 
there may be in the rehearsal of the piece, a divis- 
ion of interests. The poet will not always accord 
to his associate the better right, — if it is necessary 
to temper an effect, or to suppress a single char- 
acter in single moments of an action. Experience 
teaches that the actor, in such a contradiction of 
the conceptions on either side, readily falls into line 
as soon as he receives the notion that the poet un- 
derstands his own art. For the artist is accustomed 
to labor as a participant in a greater whole, and 
when he will give attention, right well perceives the 
highest demands of the piece. The claims which 
he puts forward with right, — good roles, strong ef- 
fects, economy of his strength, a convenient ar- 
rangement of scenes, — must be as much a matter 
of concern to the poet as to him. 

These requirements may be traced back to two 
great principles, to the proposition which may be 
stated: The stage effect must be clear to the poet 
while he is composing ; and to the short but very 
imperative proposition : The poet must know how 
to create great dramatic effects for hjs characters. 
In every individual scene, specially in scenes where 
groups appear, the poet must keep well in mind the 
general appearance of the stage ; he must perceive 
with distinctness the positions of the persons, their 
movements toward and away from each other as 


they occur gradually on_the stage. If more fre- 
quently than the character and the dignity of the 
role allow, he compels the actor to turn toward this 
or the other person, in order to facilitate subordin- 
ate roles, or correct them ; if he delays the motive, 
the transitions from one arrangement into another, 
from one side of the stage to another, as he pre- 
sumes it to come at a later moment of the scene ; if 
he forces the actor into a position which does not al- 
low him to complete his movements unrestrained and 
effectively, or to come into the proposed combina- 
tion with a fellow actor ; if he does not remember 
which of his roles every time begins the play, and 
which continues it ; further, if he leaves one of the 
chief characters unoccupied for a long time on the 
stage, or if he attributes too much to the power of 
the actor, — the final result of this and similar diffi- 
culties is a representation too weak and fragmen- 
tary of the course on the stage, of the dramatic 
action which the poet may have perceived clear 
and effective in its course through his mind. In all 
such cases, the claims of the actor must be re- 
spected. And the poet will also, on this ground, 
give special attention to the claims of stage cus- 
tom. For this, there is no better means of learning 
than to go with an actor through a new role which 
is to be practiced, and carefully watch the rehearsal 
under a competent stage director. 

The old requirement that a poet must adapt his 
characters to the special line of work of the actors, 
appears more awkward than it really is. Well 


established principles once current for the govern- 
ment of chief roles, have been abandoned by our 
stage ; having once received an artist into the 
circle of prescriptions and prohibitions, they made 
it impossible for an "intriguer" to play a role out- 
side of the first rank ; and they separated the bon- 
vivajit from the "youthful hero," by a wide chasm, 
almost impassable. Meantime, there remains so 
much of the custom as is useful for the actor and 
the stage director, in order to draw individual talent 
towards its special province, and to facilitate the 
setting of new roles. Every actor rejoices in a cer- 
tain stock of dramatic means which he has 
developed within his branch : the quality of his 
voice, accent of speech, physical bearing, postures, 
control of facial muscles. Within his accustomed 
limits, he moves with comparative security ; beyond 
them, he is uncertain. If now the poet lays claim 
to the accustomed readiness of different specialties 
in the same role, the setting will be difficult, and 
the result, perhaps, doubtful. There is, for instance, 
an Italian party-leader of the fifteenth century, as to 
outsiders, sharp, sly, concealed, an unscrupulous 
scoundrel ; in his family, warm in feeling, dignified, 
honored and honorable, — no improbable mixture ; — 
his image on the stage would strike one very differ- 
ently, when the character player or the older and 
dignified hero father represented him; probably in 
any setting, the one side of his nature would fall 

This is no infrequent case. The advantage of 



correct setting according to special capability of 
actors, the dangers of an inappropriate setting, can 
be observed in witnessing any new piece. The 
poet will never allow himself to be guided by such 
a prudent respect for the greater sureness of his 
results, when the formation of an unusual stage 
character is of importance to him. He is only to 
know what is most convenient for himself and his 

And when at last it is required of the poet that 
he fashion his characters effectively for the actor, 
this claim contains the highest requirement which 
can be placed upon the dramatic poet. To create 
effectively for the actor, means, indeed, nothing 
else than to create dramatically, in tlie best sense of 
the word. Body and soul, the actor is prepared to 
transform himself into conscious, creative activity, 
in order to body forth the most secret thought, 
feeling, sentiment, of will and deed. Let the poet 
see to it that he knows how to use worthily and 
perfectly this mighty stock of means for his artistic 
effects. And the secret of his art, — the first thing 
given a place in these pages and the last, — is only 
this : Let him delineate exactly and truly, even to 
details, however strongly feeling breaks forth from 
the private life as de^re and deed, and however 
strong impressions are made from without upon thcT 
SQiil of the hero. Let him describe this with poetic 
fulness, from a soul which sees exactly^ shktply, 
compreljjgnsively, each single moment of the pro- 
cess, and finds special joy in portraying it in 

beautiful_§iQi?lfi-4faks. Let him thus labor, and he 

will set Jiis actors the greatest tasks, and will 
worthily and completely make use of their noblest 

Again it must be said, no technique teaches how 
one must begin, in order to write in this way. 



The century in which the romance has become 
the prevailing species of poetry, will no longer con- 
sider verse an indispensable element of poetics. 
There are many dramas of a high order, favorite 
pieces upon our stage, composed in prose. At least 
in dramatic subjects from modern times, it is 
claimed, prose is the most appropriate expression 
of such thoughts and sentiments as can be placed 
on the stage, from a well-known real life. But the 
serious drama hardly concludes to abandon the 
advantages which verse affords, in order to win 
those of prose. 

It is true, prose flows along more rapidly, more 
easily, indeed, in many respects more dramatically. 
It is easier in it, to discriminate the different char- 
acters ; it offers, from the construction of the 
sentence to the qualities of voice and tones, the 
greatest wealth of colors and shades ; everything is 
less constrained ; it adapts itself quickly to every 
frame of mind; it can give to light prattle or to 
humorous delight a spirit which is very difficult to 
verse ; it admits of greater disquiet, stronger con- 
trasts, more violent movement. But these advan- 



tages are fully counterbalanced by the exalted 
mood of the hearer which verse produces and 
maintains. While prose easily incurs the risk of 
reducing the work of art to copies of ordinary 
reality, speech in verse elevates the nature of the 
characters into the noble. Every moment the 
perception and feeling of the hearer are kept alive 
to the fact that he is in the presence of a work of 
art which bears him away from reality, and sets him 
in another world, the relations of which the human 
mind has ordered with perfect freedom. Moreover, 
the limitation which is placed on logical discussion, 
and sometimes on the brevity and incisiveness of 
expression, is no very perceptible loss. To poetical 
representation, the sharpness and fineness of proof- 
processes are not so important as the operation on 
the mind, as the brilliance of imaginative expression, 
of simile and antithesis, which verse favors. > In the 
rhythmic ring of the verse, feeling and vision raised 
above reality, float as if transfigured, in the hearer's 
soul ; and it must be said that these advantages 
can be very serviceable, specially to subjects from 
modern times ; for in these, the exaltation above the 
common frame of mind of every-day life, is most 
necessary. How this can be done, not only The 
Prince of Hamburg shows, but the treatment which 
Goethe gave the undramatic material of The Natural 
Daughter, though the verse of this drama is not 
written conveniently for the actor. 

The iambic pentameter has been our established 
verse since Goethe and Schiller. A preponderating 


trochaic accent of German words makes this verse 
peculiarly convenient. Of course, it is rather brief 
in relation to the little logical units of the sentence, 
the coupling of which in pairs makes up the essence 
of the verse-line. In its ten or eleven syllables, we 
cannot compress the fulness of meaning which it 
has, for example, in the terse English speech ; and 
the poet thus inclined toward a rich, sonorous 
expression, falls easily into the temptation of 
extending part of a sentence into a line and a half 
or two lines, which it would be better to extend in 
an uninterrupted, and thus finer flow of words. 
But the pentameter has the advantage of the great- 
est possible fluency and flexibility ; it can. adapt 
itself more than any other kind of verse to changing 
moods, and follow every variation of the soul in 
time and movement. 

The remaining kinds of verse which have been 
used in the drama, suffer the disadvantage of hav- 
ing too marked a peculiarity of sound, and more 
than a little limit characterization by speech, which 
is necessary to the drama. 

The German trochaic tetrameter, which among 
many other measures for instance, Immermann used 
effectively in the catastrophe of his Alexis, flows 
like all trochaic verse, too uniformly with the 
natural accent of our language. The sharp time- 
beats which its feet make in the speech, and the 
long elevated course, give to it in the German lan- 
guage, a restlessness, a surging, a dark tone-color 
which would be appropriate only for high tragic 


moods. The iambic hexameter, the caesura of 
which stands in the middle of the third foot, the 
tragic measure of the Greeks, has, so far, been used 
but little in Germany. From its translations from 
the Greek, it acquired the reputation of stiffness and 
rigidity which do not essentially belong to it ; it 
has a vigorous movement and is capable of many 
variations. Its sonorousness is majestic, and full for 
rich expression which moves forward in long undu- 
lations, and is splendidly adapted to its use. It has 
only this disadvantage, that its chief division, which 
even in the drama must be made after the fifth 
syllable, gives to the parts of the verse very uneven 
length. Against five syllables stand seven, or 
eight if there is a feminine ending. A second 
caesura intrudes so easily into the second half verse, 
that the line is divided into three parts. This after- 
tone of the longer half makes a masculine ending of 
the verse desirable ; and the foretone of the mascu- 
line ending contributes to give weight, sometimes, 
hardness. The Alexandrine, an iambic hexameter, 
the caesura of which lies after the third arsis, and 
divides the line into two equal parts, cuts the dis- 
course too markedly in the German drama. In 
French, its effect is entirely different, because in 
this language the verse accent is much more 
covered and broken up in a greater number of 
ways, not only through the capricious and movable 
word accent, but through the free rhythmic swing 
of spoken discourse through a mingling and pro- 
longation of words, which we cannot imitate; and 


this rests on a greater prominence of the element of 
sound, sonorousness, with which the creative power 
of the speaker knows how to play in an original 
manner. Finally, there is another iambic verse in 
the German, specially adapted to a vigorous move- 
ment, yet little used, — the hexameter of The Nibe- 
bingen, in the new language an iambic hexameter, 
the fourth foot of which may be not only an 
iambus, but an anapest, and always has the 
caesura of the "verse after the first thesis. What is 
characteristic and specially adapted to the German 
language, is the position of the c^sura so far along 
in the verse, which, deviating from all ancient 
measures, as a rule, shows a greater number of 
syllables in the first half. If the verses of this 
measure are not joined in strophes, but are used 
with slight variations in construction as continuous 
long verses, with a line frequently passing over into 
the next as a single sentence, then this measure is 
excellent and effective for the expression even of 
impassioned progress. It is possible that its nature, 
which, perhaps, corresponds best to the rhythmic 
relations of the German language, avails for animated 
narrative, and v/ins some significance for one species 
of comedy. To the elevated drama, rhyme, which 
in this measure, two long verses cannot dispense 
with as a connecting element, will always seem too 
harmonious and sportive, however well it may be 
modified through a rapid transition of voice, from 
one line to another. 

For the modern drama, further, likeness of tone- 


color and uniformity of measure is indispensable. 
Our speech, and the receptivity of the hearer are, so 
far as the relations of sound are concerned, little 
developed. The differences in the sounds of the 
verses are conceived more as disturbing interrup- 
tions than as stimulating aids. But further, interest 
in the intellectual import of the discourse and in 
the dramatic movement of the characters, has come 
to the front to such an extent, that even for this 
reason, every verse unit which, in its contrast with 
what has preceded, calls attention to itself, will be 
counted a distraction. 

This is also the ground that should easily 
exclude prose passages from between poetic passages 
in our drama ; for by means of them, the contrast 
in color becomes still stronger. Inserted prose 
always gives to scenes something of the barren 
imitation of reality ; and this disadvantage is in- 
creased, because prose serves the poet as a means 
of expressing moods for which the dignified sonor- 
ousness of verse appears too excellent. 

The iambic pentameter has a fluency for the 
German poet, whose soul has accustomed itself in 
its soarings, to think and feel most easily during 
the process of composition. But its being made the 
vehicle of dramatic expression is still difficult for 
the German poet, and the poets are not numerous 
who have perfectly succeeded in it. And so 
distinctly this verse expresses the poet's quality, 
which is here called dramatic, that the reader of a 
new piece is able to perceive from a few verses 


of animated dialogue, whether this dramatic power 
of the poet is developed or not. Of course, it is 
always much easier for the Germans to feel the 
possibly dramatic than to express this inner life in 
a becoming manner in verse. 

Before iambic verse is available for the stage, 
the poet must be in a position to make it correct, 
euphonious, and without too great effort; chief 
caesura and secondary caesura, arsis, thesis, mascu- 
line endings, feminine endings, must come out 
according to well-known laws, regularly and in 
pleasing variations. 

If the poet has gained the technique of versifica- 
tion and succeeded in writing musical verse with 
pleasing flow and pithy substance, his verse is cer- 
tainly not right undramatic ; and the more difficult 
labor begins. Now the poet must acquire another 
art of rhythmic feeling, which shall occasion, in 
place of regularity, to place apparent irregularities, 
to disturb the uniform flow in manifold ways, which 
means, to imbue with strong dramatic life. 

Previously it was said, that in French, the Alex- 
andrine was animated and varied by the introduc- 
tion of irregular modulations and cadences. The 
dramatic speech of the Germans does not allow the 
actors, like the French, unlimited play with words, 
through a rapidly changing rate of utterance, sharp 
accent, through a prolongation or tossing of the 
sounds, which proceed almost independently of their 
meaning, when representing single words. On the 
other hand, there is given to the German in an 


unusual degree, the capability of expressing the 
movements of his mind, in the structure of his verse, 
through the connecting and separating of sentences, 
through bringing into relief, or transposing single 
words. The rhythmic movement of the excited 
soul comes more into relief among the Germans, 
in the logical connection and division of sentences, 
than among the Latin races in the sonorous swing 
of their recitation. 

In the iambus of the drama, this life enters by 
interrupting the symmetrical structure of the verse, 
checking it, turning it this way and that into the 
infinite shadings which are produced by the move- 
ments of the characters. The verse must accommo- 
date itself obediently to every mood of the soul ; it 
must seek to correspond to each, not only through 
its rhythm but through the logical connection of 
sentences which it combines. For quiet feeling 
and fine mental action, which move forward in 
repose and dignity or with vivid animation, he must 
use his purest form, his most beautiful euphony, and 
even flow of eloquence. In Goethe, the dramatic 
iambus glides thus in quiet beauty. If feeling rises 
higher, if the more excited mood flows out in more 
adorned, long-breathed lines, then the verse must 
rush in long waves, now dying out in prepon- 
derating feminine endings, now terminating more 
frequently in powerful masculine endings. This is, 
as a rule, Schiller's verse. The excitement becomes 
stronger ; single waves of speech break over one 
verse, and fill a part of the next; then short 


impulses of passion throng and break up the form 
of single verses ; but above all this eddying, the 
rhythmic current of a longer passage is quietly and 
steadily moving. So in Lessing. But the expres- 
sion of excitement becomes stormier and wilder; 
the rhythmic course of the verse seems wholly dis- 
ordered ; now and again a sentence from the end of 
one verse rings over into the beginning of the next ; 
here and there a part of a verse is torn from its con- 
nections, and attached to what has preceded or 
what follows ; speech and counter-speech break 
the grammatical connections ; .the first word of a 
sentence, and the last, — two important places, — are 
separated from others and become independent 
members of a sentence ; the verse remains imper- 
fect ; instead of the quiet restful alternations of 
strong and weak endings, there is a long series of 
verses with the masculine ending; the caesura is 
hardly to be recognized ; even in those unaccented 
syllables or groups, over which, in the regular 
course, the rhythm would flow swiftly, massive, 
heavy words throng together, and the parts of the 
verse tumble against each other as in chaos. This 
is the dramatic verse, as it produces the most 
powerful effects in the best passages of Kleist, 
in spite of all the poet's mannerisms ; thus it whirls 
and eddies away more magnificently, more finished, 
in the passionate scenes of Shakespeare. 

As soon as the poet has learned to use his verse 
in such a manner, he has imbued it with a dramatic 
life. But he must always keep in mind one dramatic 


rule : Dramatic verse is not to be read or recited 
quietly, but to be pronounced in character. For 
this purpose, it is necessary that the logical connec- 
tion of sentences be made perfectly clear, through 
conjunctions and prepositions ; and further, that the 
expression of sentiment correspond to the character 
of the speaker, not break off in unintelligible 
brevity, nor be prolonged to prolixity ; finally, that 
uneuphonious combinations of sounds and indistinct 
words are to be carefully avoided. Spoken speech 
yields its thought, sometimes with more ease, some- 
times with more difficulty. A dissonance which the 
reader hardly notices, when pronounced, distracts 
and offends in a marked degree. Every obscurity 
in the connection of sentences makes the actor and 
the hearer uncertain, and leads to false conceptions. 
But even for accurate expression in fine and spirited 
explication, the reader is more penetrating and 
receptive than the easily distracted and more busily 
occupied spectator. On the other hand, the actor 
may make many things clearer. The reader in a 
comparatively more quiet mood, follows the short 
sentences of a broken speech, the inner relations of 
which are not made plain by the usual particles of 
logical sentence sequences ; but he follows with an 
effort which easily becomes exhaustion. To the 
actor, on the contrary, such passages are the most 
welcome as the foundation of his creative work. 
By means of an accent, a glance, a gesture, he 
knows how to render quickly intelligible to the 
hearer, the last connection, the omitted ideas neces- 


sary to completeness ; and the soul which he puts 
into the words, the passion which streams forth 
from him, become a guide which fills out and com- 
pletes for the hearer the import of the suppressed 
and fragmentary speech, and produces perhaps a 
powerful unity. It happens that in reading, long 
passages of verse give the impression of the artifi- 
cial, of something vainly sought for ; but this on the 
stage changes into a picture of intense passion. 
Now, it is possible that the actor has done his best 
with it ; for his art is specially powerful where the 
poet has left a blank in the thought. But just so 
often the poetic art has the best right; and the fault 
is in the reader, because his power of following and 
thinking along with the poet, is not so active as it 
should be. It is easy to recognize this peculiarity 
of style in Lessing. The frequent interruptions in 
the discourse, the short sentences, the questions 
and chance remarks, the animated dialectic pro- 
cesses which his persons pass through, appear in 
reading as artificial unrest. But, with a few excep- 
tions, they are so accurate, so profoundly conceived, 
that this poet, just on this account, is the favorite 
with actors. Still more striking is the same 
peculiarity in Kleist, but not always sound, and not 
always true. In the restlessness, feverishness, 
excitement of his language, the inner life of his 
characters, which struggles violently, sometimes 
helplessly for expression, finds its corresponding 

But a useless interruption of the discourse is not 


infrequent, — unnecessarily invented animation, pur- 
poseless questions, a misunderstanding that requires 
no explanation. For the most part, he has a prac- 
tical purpose in this ; he wishes to make very 
prominent individual ideas which appear of 
importance to him. But that seems to him 
important sometimes, which can really claim no 
significance; and the frequent recurrence of little 
leaps aside from the direct line of the action, dis- 
turb not only the reader but the hearer. 

The effect of verse can be increased, in the Ger- 
man drama, by parallelisms, as well of single 
verses as of groups, especially in dialogue scenes; 
where proposition and denial come into sharp oppo- 
sition, such a rotation of verses is an excellent 
means of indicating the contrast. 

The expansion which the rhythmic sweep of the 
Greek drama had, the Germans cannot imitate. 
Owing to the character of our speech, we are in a 
position to set over against one another in our 
dramatic composition, every four verses as a unit, 
so that the hearer will distinctly perceive coinci- 
dence and contrast of accent. In a recitation, 
which makes the logical side less prominent, and 
brings out the euphony which allows the voice 
stronger variations, one may set a longer series of 
verses effectively over against another. If the 
Greeks, by means of their art in recitation, could 
combine ten trimeters into a unit, and in the reply 
to this, could repeat the same accent and cadence, 
there is nothing incomprehensible to us in it. 


Possibly, in the older times of Greek tragedy, there 
were a number of recitation melodies, or refrains, 
which were specially invented for each piece, or 
were already known to the hearers, and which with- 
out elevating the speaking tones of the recitation to 
a song, bound a longer group of verses into a unit. 

This method of delivery is not to be used by us. 
Even in using the customary rotation verses, which 
beat, one against one, two against two, three against 
three, a limit is set. For our kind of dramatic 
composition rebels against any artifice which 
restrains the movements of characters and their 
sentiments. The pleasure from the rhetoric of such 
counter-speeches is less than the danger that the 
truth of representation may be lessened by artistic 
limitation. The poet will, therefore, do well to 
modify this little effect, and take from it the severity 
and appearance of artificiality ; this may be done by 
interspersing parallel propositions in verse, with 
irregularly placed verses. 

In the soul of the poet, at the same time with 
the foundation of the characters and the beginnings 
of the action, the color begins to flash. This pecu- 
liar adjunct of every subject matter is more 
developed among us moderns than in earlier times ; 
for historical culture has greatly enhanced our sense 
for, and interest in what deviates from our own life. 
Character and action are conceived by the poet in 
the peculiar circumstances which the time, the 
place, the relations of the civilization in the time of 
the real hero, his manner of speech and of dealing, 


his costume, and the forms of intercourse, — have in 
contrast with our own time and life. Whatever of 
the original clings to the material of a play carries 
the poet back in his artistic work, to the speech of 
his hero, to his surroundings, even down to his cos- 
tume, the scenery and stage properties. These 
peculiarities the poet idealizes. He perceives them 
as determined by the idea of the piece. A good 
color is an important matter. It works at the 
beginning of the piece, at once stimulating and 
enchanting to the hearer ; it remains to the end a 
charming ingredient, which may sometimes serve to 
cover weaknesses in the action. 

These embellishing colors do not develop in 
every poet with equal vividness ; they do not come to 
light with the same energy in every subject. But 
they never entirely fail where characters and human 
circumstances are depicted. They are indispensable 
to the epic and the romance, as they are to the 
drama. Color is of the most importance in his- 
torical themes ; it helps here to characterize the 
heroes. The dramatic character itself, must, in its 
feeling and its volition, have an import which brings 
it much nearer a cultured man of the present, than 
its original in reality corresponds to our conception 
of it. But it is the color which gracefully covers 
for the hearer the inner contradiction between the 
man in history and the hero in the drama ; the hero 
and his action it clothes with the beautiful appear- 
ance of a strange being, alluring to the imagination. 

The newer stage rightly takes pains, therefore, 


to express in the costume which it gives to the 
actors, the time in which the piece is laid, the social 
position, and many peculiarities of the characters 
presented. We are now separated by about a cen- 
tury from the time when Caesar came upon the 
German stage with dagger and wig, and Semiramis 
adorned her riding coat with much strange tinsel, 
and her hair with many jewels and striking trim- 
mings, in order to give herself a foreign appearance. 
Now, on many prominent stages, imitation of his- 
torical costume has gone very far ; but in the 
majority of cases, it remains far behind the demands 
which the audience, in its average historical know- 
ledge, is justified in demanding with respect to 
scenic equipment. It is clear that it is not the duty 
of the stage to imitate antiquarian peculiarities ; but 
it is just as clear that it must avoid shocking a 
multitude of its patrons by forcing its heroes into a 
costume which, perhaps, nowhere and never, cer- 
tainly not in this century, was possible. If the poet 
must keep aloof the antiquarian enthusiasm of the 
over-zealous from the clothing of his heroes, because 
the unusual, the unaccustomed in accessory does not 
advance, but rather disorders his piece, he will 
oftener have occasion, in for instance, a Hohen- 
staufen drama, to forbid a Spanish mantle, and to 
refuse to put upon a Saxon emperor a glittering 
lead armor, which changes his Ottos and Henrys 
into gold-beetles, and proves by their intolerable 
brilliancy that they were never struck by a blow 
from a sword. 


The same holds true with the scenery and stage 
properties. A rococo table in a scene from the 
fifteenth century, or a Greek pillared hall where 
King Romulus walks, have already been long pain- 
ful to the spectator. In order to make such remiss- 
nesses diflficult for individual directors and actors, 
the poet will do well, in pieces from ancient or 
remote times, to prescribe exactly upon a page 
devoted to that purpose, not only the scenic 
apparatus but the costumes. 

But the most important means for his use in 
giving color to his piece, is the language. It is true, 
the iambus has a certain tone color and modifies the 
characteristic expression more than prose. But it 
admits of a great wealth of light and shade ; it 
allows even to words a slight tint in dialect. 

In subjects from remote times, a language must 
be invented, possessing a color corresponding to the 
period. This is a beautiful, delightful labor, which 
the creating poet must undertake right joyfully. 
This work will be most advanced by a careful read- 
ing of the written monuments received from the 
hero's time. This strange speech works sugges- 
tively on the mind of the poet, by its peculiar 
accents, its syntactical structure, its popular forms 
of expression. And with pen in hand, the poet 
arranges what appears useful to him for powerful 
expression, — striking imagery, telling comparison, 
proverbial dialect. Among every foreign people 
whose literature is accessible, such work is benefi- 
cial, and most advantageous with respect to any 


nation's own earlier times. Our language had in 
former periods, as the Sclavonic has still, a far 
greater proportion of figurative expressions, sugges- 
tive to the power of imagination. The sense of the 
words had not been evaporated through a long sci- 
entific labor ; everywhere there attached to them 
something of the first mental expression, from the 
popular mind where they originated. The number 
of proverbs is large, as also is the number of terse 
forms and Biblical phrases, which the reflections 
of our time replace. Such ingredients the creating 
artist may hold firmly in mind ; upon their melody 
his talent amplifies almost involuntarily, the ground 
tone and moods of the speech of the drama. 

With such an inspection of the written works of 
old times, there remain connected with the poet, still 
others, — little traits of character, anecdotes, many 
striking things which may complete and illuminate 
his pictures. 

What he has thus found, he must not use pedan- 
tically nor insert in his speeches like arabesques ; 
each item may signify something to him ; but the 
suggestion which he receives from it, is of highest 

This mood which he has given his soul does not 
forsake him ; even while he is conducting his hero 
through the scenes, it will suggest to him, not 
only the right kind of language, but the cooperation 
of persons, the way they behave toward each other, 
forms of intercourse, customs and usages of the 


All this is true of the characters and their move- 
ments* in the scenes. For at every point in the 
drama, in every sentiment, in every act, that which 
in the material of the play struck us as characteristic, 
clings to what is humanly exalted in the ideal fig- 
ures as embellishing additions. It is seldom neces- 
sary to warn the poet that he is not to do too much 
with these colors toward scenic effects ; for his 
highest task is, of course, to have his heroes speak 
our language of passion, and exhibit what is charac- 
teristic in them, in such vital expressions as are 
intelligible to every period, because, in every time 
they are possible and conceivable. 

Thus the color of the piece is visible in the 
endowment of language, in the characters, in the 
details of the action. What the poet communicates 
to his play by color, is as little an imitation of 
reality, as his heroes are, — it is free creation. But 
this accessory helps so much the more to conjure 
up a picture in the imagination of the hearer, which 
has the beautiful appearance of historic truth, the 
more earnestly the poet has taken it upon himself 
to master the real circumstances of that old time, 
if he does not lack the power of reproducing what 
he perceived to be attractive. 


Great is the wealth of beauty in the poetry of 
past peoples and times, specially in the century of 
our great poets who form the judgment and excite 
the imagination of the poet of the present. This 
immeasurable wealth of the products of art is per- 
haps the greatest blessing for a future in which the 
popular energy works most powerfully, taking up 
what has affinity for it and casting off what resists 
it. But during a time of weak rest of the national 
spirit, this inheritance was a disadvantage for the 
creative activity of the poets, because it favored a 
lack of distinctive style. Only a few years ago, in 
Germany, it was almost an accident whether an 
Athenian or a Roman, Calderon or Shakespeare, 
whether Goethe or Schiller, Scribe or Dumas, 
attracted the soul of the young poet into the magic 
circle of their style and their forms. 

The poet of the present begins, furthermore, as 
a beneficiary who richly receives, and is thereby 
incited to his own creative activity. He has, 
usually, no life occupation which binds him to a 
particular, definite field of poetry. It is again almost 
by chance, what species of poetical composition 



attracts him. He may let his sentiments ring out 
in lyrics ; he may write a romance ; at last the 
theater entices him, — the brilliance of the author's 
evening, the applause of the audience, the power of 
the received tragic impressions. There are few 
German poets who have not first commended them- 
selves to the public, in a volume of lyrics, then tried 
their luck on the stage, and finally contented them- 
selves with the more quiet success of a romance. 
Without any doubt, their poetic talent showed 
greatest capability in one of these directions. But 
as external relations laid no restrictions on them, 
and now one, now another field attracted more 
strongly, the circle in which their power moved with 
greatest freedom, did not come into fullest comple- 
tion. The great secret of a rich creative activity is 
limitation to a single branch of the beautiful art. 
This the Hellenes knew very well. Whoever wrote 
tragedies, let comedy alone. Whoever used hexa- 
meter, avoided the iambus. 

But the poet, also, to whom the creation of 
dramatic figures is a necessity, lives, if he does not 
stride upon the boards as an actor or director, apart 
from the theater. He may write or not. External 
pressure, a mighty lever to move talent, is almost 
entirely wanting. The theater has become the 
daily pleasure of the peaceful citizen, and collects 
not the worst, but not the most pretentious social 
element. In this large expansion, it has lost some 
of the dignity and loftiness which the poet might 
wish for the drama of serious style. There are 


brought on the stage, buffoonery, opera, comedy, 
forms and theories of life of different centuries. 
All is sought which can please, the newest, the 
most singular ; and, again, what affords the great 
multitude most pleasure, thriists all else aside. 

The resources of material for the poet have 
become almost boundless, — the Greek and the 
Roman worlds, the Middle Ages. Sacred writings 
and poetry of the Jews and Christians, even the peo- 
ple of the Orient, history, legends of the present, 
open their treasures to the searcher. But this offers 
the disadvantage, that with such infinite material, a 
choice becomes difficult, and is almost an accident, 
and that none of these sources is in a condition to 
attract the German exclusively, or preferably. 
Finally, for the German, as it appears, the time has 
not yet come when the dramatic life of the people, 
itself, flows out richly and unimpeded. Gladly 
would we see in the appearances of the newest 
present the beginnings of a new development of 
national character, beginnings which do not yet con- 
tribute to art. That it is still so difficult for the 
dramatic poet to raise himself from the epic and 
lyric conception of character and of situations, is no 

But the poet must labor for the stage. Only in 
connection with the actor's art does he produce the 
best results which are possible to his poetry. The 
reading drama is fundam(!ntally only a makeshift 
of a time in which the full power of dramatic crea- 
tion has not yet appeared among a people, or has 


disappeared again. The species is an old one. 
Already among the Greeks pieces were written for 
recitation, and still more of the Latin recitation 
pieces have been transmitted to us. Among the 
Germans, the reading drama, from the early come- 
dies of nun Hroswith, through the stylistic attempts 
of the first humanists, even to the greatest poem of 
our language, has a long history. Infinitely varied 
is the poetical worth of these works. But the 
employment of poetic form for dramatic effects, 
which renounce the claim of being the highest of 
their species, is considered, on the whole, a limita- 
tion, against which art itself and the interested 
reader protests. 

In the pages of this book, the attempt has been 
made to show that the technical work of the 
dramatic composer is not entirely easy and free 
from pains. This kind of poetry demands more 
from the poet than any other. It demands a 
peculiar, but rarely found capability for representing 
the mental processes of men of significant and 
unusual power of action ; a nature well tempered 
with passion and clearness of vision; a developed 
and certain poetic endowment, and a knowledge of 
men, as well as what in real life, is called character; 
an accurate knowledge of the stage and its needs 
must be added. And yet it is striking,, that of the 
many who make incursions into this field of creative 
work, the most are on^y dilettanti friends of the 
beautiful ; but just these choose the most exacting 
labor, and such a one as promises them the very 


least success. It is indeed serious work to write a 
romance which merits the name of work of art ; but 
every educated person with constructive skill and 
knowledge of men, who has not attempted anything 
as a poet, may offer something readable, wherein 
single significant impressions of real life, what he 
has seen, what he has felt, are spiritedly interwoven. 
Why does the most capricious muse of all muses, so 
unapproachable, so ill-mannered toward everybody 
who does not wholly belong to her, — why does she 
attract cultured men, very capable men ? What 
enemy of their life guides just such warm-hearted 
friends, who busy themselves with poetry during 
their hours of leisure from active duties, into a 
poetical field, in which the closest combination 
of an always rare constructive energy, with an 
unusual, firm, secure mastery of the forms of art, is 
the assumed condition of lasting success ? Does a 
secret longing of man for what is most lacking in 
him, possibly, lead him astray ? And does the 
dilettanti, just for this reason, seek to develop the 
drama in himself, because it is denied him, with all 
his poetic visions, to animate creatively his restless 
fluttering feelings in the body of any other form of 
art ? Undeniably, the attempts of such persons 
to labor for the stage, are vain and hopeless. But 
for the poet who has been equipped for all his life 
with dramatic power, we wish, before all other pos- 
sessions, a firm and patient heart. He must, how- 
ever, bring to his employment still another means 
of advancement ; he must feel quickly and joyfully 


what is charming in a subject, and yet have the 
deliberation to carry it within his breast till it is 
natural. Before he ascends the stage as creative 
genius, he must for a long time make himself inti- 
mate with the chief laws of creation ; for he must 
understand how to prove whether a subject is useful, 
in the essentials. Even in this, judgment must 
from the first moment watch over his warm heart, 
where the charm of composition arises ; a play which 
has failed, means to him, on the average, a year of 
his life lost. 

The imagination of different poets does not seize 
upon material with equal rapidity ; the beginner's 
seeking soul hovers lightly about any summit which 
offers itself, and the nest is built beneath the first 
budding branch. He who is warned by experience, 
becomes critical and tests too long. Often it is not 
an accident that suggests a subject to the soul, but 
the mood and impressions of the soul's own life, 
which attract the fancy in a definite direction. 
For the soul works secretly upon a piece before it 
finds hero and chief scenes ; and what it demands 
from the material is that this may offer the possi- 
bility of certain scenic effects. 

The difficulties which the various subjects and 
materials offer, have been made sufficiently promi- 
nent. But he who finds it difficult to decide, may 
consider that it depends on the power of his talents 
whether, in most events, they are changed into a 
useful action. A positive poetic power needs only 
a few rnoments out of legend, history, narrative, 


onjy_g a^ strong an d m omentous CQntrast,_ out ot 
which to form an action. 

If the dramatic poet of old times found these 
traits in the legend shortly before the destruction of 
the hero of the epic, it may yet be asked whether, 
in historical dramas, it is just as necessary to make 
the chief heroes of this sort the central figures in an 
action, that this may have its movements about 
them, their adventures, and their overthrow. How 
difficult and perilous it is to make use artistically of 
an historical life, has already been discussed. Let it 
not be objected that the greater historical interest 
which the heroes awaken, and the patriotic enthusi- 
asm which the poet and the spectator alike bring to 
them, make them specially adapted to the drama. 
The old German history offers comparatively few 
heroic figures whose remembrance is dear through 
a great interest, in the present time. What to our 
people are the emperors of the Saxon, Prankish, 
Staufen, or Hapsburg houses ? The purposes for 
which they conquered and died are perhaps con- 
demned by the convictions of the present time ; the 
struggles of their life have remained with no occur- 
rences easily understood by us ; for the popular 
mind, they are dead and buried. But further, the 
conscientious poet, before the not numerous histori- 
cal heroes who still live in the memory of the 
people, will recognize new restrictions which narrow 
the freshness of his creative power. Just this 
patriotic sympathy which he brings with him, and 
expects from the hearer, lessens the superior free- 


dom with which, as poet, he must hover over every 
character, and misleads him into special kinds of pre- 
sentation or. a sort of portrait sketching. If once, to 
one German poet, the dramatic figure of the great 
Elector has been successful, Luther, Maria Theresa, 
"Old Fritz," have only so much the more fre- 
quently failed. 

But it is not at all necessary to make historical 
kings and generals, the heroes of an historical 
drama, which can be constructed advantageously on 
only a little period of their historical life. Much 
more agreeably and profitably may be exhibited 
the reaction which their lives have had upon the 
lives of others. How well has Schiller done this in 
Don Carlos, in Mary Stuart I The Phillip of the 
former play is a brilliant example, showing how an 
historical character is to be used as a partner in a 

With the life of well-known historical heroes a 
multitude of figures is connected, of whom single 
characteristic traits have been reported ; and these 
successfully incite free invention. These accessory 
figures of history, whose life and its events the 
poet has at his free disposal, are specially conven- 
ient. One treasonous act and its punishment, one 
passionate deed of hatred and its consequences, one 
scene from a great family quarrel, one defiant 
struggle or sly play against a superior power, give 
him an abundant material. And such traits and 
such incidents are found on every page of our his- 
tory, as in the history of all civilized nations. 


Whoever is conscious of his own power chooses 
his pictures confidently, rather from the materials 
not yet arranged for art, but found in the real life of 
the past, and of modern times, than from such 
stock as is offered him from the other species of 
poetry. For the serious drama, material taken from 
romances and modern novels is not of much 
account. If Shakespeare used material from novels, 
his sources were, in our sense of the word, only 
short anecdotes, in which, of course, an artistic con- 
sistency and a powerful conclusion are already 
present. In the elaborated epic narrative of the 
present, the fancy of the poet shows its power fre- 
quently, just in effects which are intrinsically hostile 
to the dramatist; and the embellished and agreeable 
elaboration of the men and the situations in the 
romance, may rather dull than sharpen the imagina- 
tion of the dramatist. He will hardly do wrong to 
the property of another if he draws his material 
from this circle of invention. For if he is an artist, 
very little will pass from the creation of another 
over into his drama. 

The tragic poet is able, of course, to invent his 
action without using any material already at hand. 
But indeed, this happens less often, and with more 
difficulty than one would suppose. Among the 
great dramas of our stage, just as it once was in 
ancient times, there are few which are not con- 
structed from already used material. For it is a 
characteristic of the power of imagination, that it 
perceives more vividly and exactly the movements 


in the life of men, if it can attach itself to a partic- 
ular figure and its adventures. The image which 
imagination discovers for itself is not so easily 
made firm and powerful, that there is inclination to 
put upon it steady and assiduous labor. 

And yet one conviction the poet may keep in 
his quiet soul, that no material is entirely good, little 
wholly bad. From this side also, there is no per- 
fect work of art. Every subject has its inherent 
difficulties and disadvantages which the art of the 
poet is so far able to overcome, that the whole 
gives the impression of beauty and greatness. 
These weaknesses are to be recognized, but only by 
the practiced eye ; and every work of art gives the 
critic, from this point of view, occasion for the 
exercise of his functions. He who judges must be 
on the lookout, that in the face of this deficiency, 
he understands whether the poet has done his duty, 
whether he has used all the means of his art, to 
master or to conceal. 

In the joyful consciousness that he is beginning 
a gallant work, the poet must sternly take his posi- 
tion over against what has become dear to him, and 
test it, so soon as his soul begins to move about the 
accumulated material to beautify it. He will have 
to make the idea distinct, and eliminate everything 
accidental that clings to it from reality. 

To the first charm that becomes ardent in his 

oul, belong characteristic utterances of the hero in 

single moments of his inner agitation or powerful 

activity. In order to increase the number of the 


j3ictures of such moments, and in order to inten-'^^^'^^ 
sify the characters, he will earnestly seek to under- 
stand the real life and surroundings of his hero. 
He will, therefore, contemplating a historical drama, 
make good studies, and this labor will have rich 
reward ; for from it appear to him a great number 
of visions and pictures which may be readily joined 
in imagination to the growing work. The grateful 
soul of the German has, for just such characterizing 
details, a very sensitive feeling ; and the poet will 
therefore have need to be on his guard that historic 
costume, the historic marvellous and infrequent do 
not assume too much importance. 

If he has in this way extended, as much as possi- 
ble, the world of his artistic vision, then let him 
throw aside his books, and wrestle for the freedom 
which is necessary to him, in order to have free play 
upon the accumulated material. But let him hold 
fast in his mind, as a restraint upon his directing 
power, four rules : a short course to the action, few 
persons, few changes, and even in the first plan, 
strong relief to the important parts of the action. 

He may write out his plans or not; on the 
whole, this is not of much account. Elaborate 
written explanations have this advantage, that they 
make single purposes distinct through reflection ; 
but they have the disadvantage, that they easily 
clog the imagination, and render more difficult the 
necessary transformation and elimination. One 
sheet is enough to contain a perfect outline. 

Before the poet begins his elaboration, the char- 


acters of his heroes and their positions relative to 
one another, must be clearly fixed in mind, in all 
essentials ; and so the results of each single scene. 
Then during the labor, the scenes take shape easily, 
as does their dramatic course. 

Of course, this serious labor before beginning to 
write does not exclude minor changes in the char- 
acters ; for the creative skill of the poet does not 
stand still. He intends to direct his characters, 
and they impel him. It is a joyful process which 
he notices in himself as the conceived characters, 
through his creative power and under the logical 
force of events, become living beings. A new 
invention attaches to one already expressed — and 
suddenly there flames up a beautiful and great 
effect. And while the goal and resting-place by 
the way are fixed in his clear gaze, the surging 
feeling labors over the effects, exciting and exalt- 
ing the poet himself. It is a strong inner excite- 
ment, cheering and strengthening the favorably 
endowed poet ; for above the most violent agitation, 
through the fancy which in the most passionate 
parts of his action excites his nerves almost to 
convulsion and reddens his cheeks, the spirit 
hovers in perfect clearness, ruling, choosing freely, 
and ordering and arranging systematically 

The labor of the same poet is different at different 
moments. Many of these appear to him brilliant ; 
their previously perceived effects move his spirit 
animatedly ; what has been written down appears 
only as a weak copy of a glowing inner picture, 


whose magic color has vanished ; other moments 
develop perhaps, slowly, not without effort ; the 
fancy is sluggish, the nerve-tension not strong 
enough ; and sometimes it seems as if the creative 
power rebels against the situation. Such scenes, 
however, are not always, the worst. 

The force of creative energy, too, is quite vary- 
ing. One is rapid in the labor of writing down 
what is composed ; to another, forms take shape 
slowly, and do not express themselves fluently on 
paper. The more rapid workers do not always have 
the advantage. Their danger is that they often fix 
the images too soon, before the work of fancy has 
reached the needed maturity. It is often possible 
for the poet to say to himself, that the inner uncon- 
scious labor is done, and to recognize the moment 
when the details of the effects have been rightly 
completed. The maturing of the pictures, however, 
is an important matter ; and it is a peculiarity of 
creative power, that, as we might say, it is in opera- 
tion at hours in which the poet is not consciously at 
his work. 

Not unimportant is the order of sequence in 
which the poet writes out his piece. For one, the 
well trained imagination works out scenes and acts 
in regular succession ; for another, it seizes on, now 
this, now that part of a great effect. What has 
been written comes to exercise a controlling influ- 
ence on what is to be written. As soon as concep- 
tion and vision and feeling are recorded in words, 
they stand face to face with the poet as an outsider 


giving direction ; they suggest the new, and their 
color and their effects change what may come later. 
Whoever works in the regular order will have the 
advantage that mood develops from mood, situa- 
tion from situation, in regular course. He will not 
always avoid making the way over which he would 
guide his characters, deviate a little and gradually, 
under his hands. It appears that Schiller has so 
worked. Whoever, on the other hand, sets before 
himself what the sportive fancy has vividly illumi- 
nated, will probably supervise more securely the 
aggregate effect and movement of his masterpiece ; 
he will, however, now here, now there, during his 
labor, have to make changes in motives and in indi- 
vidual traits. This was, at least in single cases, the 
work of Goethe. 

When the piece has been completed beyond the 
catastrophe, and the heart is exalted with gladness 
on account of the finished work, then the reaction 
which prevails everywhere after a highly excited 
frame of mind, begins. The soul of the poet is still 
very warm, the aggregate of beauty which he has 
created, and enjoyed while creating, the inner image 
which he has of its effects, he embodies still uncon- 
fused in the written work. It appears to him, 
according to the mood of the hour, either a failure 
or a vast success ; on the whole, if in a normal state 
of mind, he will feel an inclination to trust to the 
power which his work attests. But his work is not 
yet finished, at least if he is a German. If the poet 
writes to have his work put oil the boards, he does 


not, as has been said, yet feel, every moment, the 
impressions which the forces of his piece produce on 
the stage. Dramatic power works unequally also 
in this direction ; and it is pleasant to notice the 
oscillations, in themselves. They may be perceived 
in the works of even great poets. One scene is dis- 
tinguished by a vivid conception of the scenic 
action, the discourse is broken, the effects more 
exactly harmonized by transitions ; at another time, 
it flows more agreeably for the reader than for the 
actor. And however rightly the poet may have 
perceived the sum of scenic effects, in detail, the 
sense of the words and the effect which, from the 
writing-table, they produce on the receptive mind, 
have had more of his attention than their sound, 
and their mediation with the spectator through the 
actor. But not only does the actor's right prevail 
touching a piece, requiring here greater prominence 
of one effect, there a modification ; but the audience 
is, to the poet, an ideal body demanding a definite 
treatment. As the power of imagination was greater 
in the hearer in the time of Shakespeare, the enjoy- 
ment of spoken words greater, but the comprehen- 
sion of connections slower, so the audience of 
to-day has a soul with definite qualities. It has 
already taken up much, its comprehension of the 
connections is quick, its demands for powerful 
movement are great, its preference for definite 
kinds of situations is inordinately developed. 

The poet will therefore be compelled to adapt 
his work to the actor's art and the demands of the 


public. This business, the stage term of which is 
"adapting" {^aptireii), the poet is able only in rare 
cases to achieve alone. 

In the land of dramatic poetry,the cutting out of 
passages is wrongly in bad repute ; it is rather 
(since for a time, the creative work of the German 
poet is accustomed to begin with a weak develop- 
ment of the sense of form) the greatest benefit 
which can be conferred upon his piece, an indis- 
pensable prerequisite to presentation on the stage, 
the one means of insuring success. Further, it 
is frequently a right which the actor's art must 
enforce against the poet ; omissions are the in- 
visible helpers which adjust the demands of the 
spectator and the claims of the'poet; whoever with 
quiet enjoyment perceives clearly, at his work- 
table, the poetical beauty of a piece, thinks, not 
willingly, how the effects will be changed in the 
light of the stage. Even worthy authors who 
have chosen the most serviceable calling of 
explaining to their contemporaries the beauties 
of the greatest poets, look down with contempt 
on a tradesman's custom of the stage, which 
unmercifully mangles the most beautiful poetry. 
Only from the brush of a careful manager do the 
beautiful forms in the masterpieces of Schiller and 
Shakespeare come forward in the right proportion 
for the stage. Of course, every theater does not 
have a technical director, who with delicacy and 
understanding arranges the pieces so as to adapt 
them to the stage. Very adverse is the rude hand 


that cuts into the dramatic beauty, because it may 
present an inconvenience or does not conform to 
the taste of an exacting audience. But the misuse 
of an indispensable means should not bring that 
means into ill-repute ; and if one would depreciate 
the complaints of the poets, over the misuse of their 
works, according to their justification, one would in 
most cases do them wrong. 

Now in this adapting of a piece, much is merely 
of personal opinion ; the justification of many single 
omissions is sometimes doubtful. The direction of 
a theater, which has, as a matter of course, the 
effect on a particular stage in mind, will have greater 
regard to the personality of its actors than will be 
welcome to the poet before the presentation. To 
an able actor who is specially esteemed by the 
audience, the director will sometimes allow to re- 
main what is unnecessary ; when he expects some 
good result from it, he may take an accessory 
effect from a role whose setting must be imperfect, 
if he is convinced that the actor is unable to bring 
it out. 

The author of a work must not, therefore, leave 
the cutting down of his play entirely to strangers. 
He can accomplish it himself if he has had long 
experience with the stage ; but otherwise he will 
need the aid of other hands. He must reserve to 
himself the last judgment in the matter; and he will 
not usually allow the management to abridge his 
piece without his approval. But he will, with self- 
denial, listen to the opinions of men who have had 


greater experience, and have an inclination to yield 
to them where his artistic conscience does not 
make concessions impossible for him. But since 
his judgment is hardly unembarrassed, he must, at 
the first intrusion of a benevolent criticism into his 
soul, wind about through uncertainty and inner 
struggles, to the great exercise of his judgment. 
The first disturbance in the pleasant peace of a 
poetic mind, which is just rejoicing in a completed 
work, is perhaps painful for a weak soul ; but it is 
as wholesome as a draft of fresh air in the sultry 
summer. The poet is to respect and love his work 
so long as he bears it about as an ideal, and works 
upon it; the completed work must be dismissed. It 
must be as if strange to hirn, in order that he may 
gain freedom for new work. 

And yet the poet must attempt the first adapta- 
tion, while his work is still on his desk. It is an 
unfriendly business, but it is necessary. Perhaps 
\^ile he has been writing, he has perceived that 
some parts are necessary. Many moods which have 
been dear to him, he has more broadly elaborated 
than a slight warning of his conscience now 
approves. Nay, it is possible that his work, after 
the completion of his labor, in the moment when he 
considers it done, is still a quite chaotic mass of 
correct and artistic effects, and of episodical or in- 
juriously uneven finish. 

Now the time has come when he may repair 
what he slighted in his former labor. He must go 
through scene by scene, testing ; in each he must 


investigate the course of individual roles, the pos- 
ing, the proposed movements of the persons ; he 
must try to make the picture of the scene vivid 
at each moment on the stage ; he must hit upon 
the exact position of the entrances and exits 
through which his persons come upon the stage and 
leave ; he must consider, also, the scenery and the 
properties, whether they hinder or whether they aid 
as much as possible. 

Not less carefully let him examine the current 
of the scene itself. Perhaps in this process he will 
discover prolixities ; for to one writing, an acces- 
sory trait of character may easily seem too import- 
ant ; or the role of a favorite has come to the front 
in a way to disturb the aggregate effect ; or the 
presentations of speeches and responses are too fre- 
quent. Let him inexorably expunge what does not 
conduce to the worth of the scenic structure, how- 
ever beautiful it may be in itself. Let him go 
further and test the connection of the scenes of an 
act, the one aggregate effect. Let him exert his 
whole art to avoid the change of scenery within 
acts, and fully, when by such a change the act will 
be twice broken. At the first glance, the probable 
seems impossible to him, but it must be possible. 

And if he considers the acts concluded, their 
combination of scenes satisfactory, then let him 
compare the climax of effects in the single acts, 
and see that the power of the second part corre- 
sponds also to the first. Let him raise the climax 
by an effort of his best poetic power, and let him 


have a sharp eye upon the act of the return. For 
if the hearers should not be satisfied with the catas- 
trophe, the fault lies frequently in the previous 

The time within which the action must complete 
itself will be determined for the modern poet by 
the custom of his contemporaries. We read with 
astonishment of the capacity of the Athenians to 
endure for almost an entire day, the greatest and 
most thrilling tragic effects. Even Shakespeare's 
pieces are not much longer than our audience might 
be accustomed to, were they given unabridged, in 
a small auditorium where more rapid speaking is 
possible; they would not require, on the average, 
more than four hours. The German unwillingly 
tolerates now in a closed theater, a play which 
takes much longer than three hours. This is a 
circumstance in no way to be disregarded ; for in 
the time which extends beyond this, however 
exciting the action may be, there are disturbances 
by the withdrawal of single spectators ; and it is not 
possible to hinder the restlessness of the remain- 
ing ones. But such a limitation is for this reason 
a disadvantage, that in view of a great subject and 
great elaboration, three hours is a very short time; 
especially on our stage, where from the time of a 
five-act play, during the four intervals between acts, 
fully a half hour is lost. Of all the German poets, 
it was notoriously most difficult for Schiller to com- 
plete his play within the stage time ; and although 
his verses flow rapidly, his plays, unabridged, would 



take more time on the whole than the audience 
would be willing to. give. 

A five act play, which after its arrangement for 
the stage contains an average of five hundred 
lines to the act, exceeds the allotted time. As a 
rule, not morejiiaii two,_thausand-Jiii£S_^QuJd be 
considered the regular length of a stage piece, a 
limit which is conditioned by the character of the 
piece, the average rate of utterance, compactness, 
or lighter flow of the verse ; also through this, 
whether the action of the piece itself demands 
many divisions, pauses, movements of masses, pan- 
tomimic activity ; lastly, through the stage upon 
which it is played ; for the size and acoustics of the 
house and habits of the place exercise an essential 

Of course, most of the stage pieces of our great 
poets are considerably longer ;^^but the poet would 
now vainly appeal to their example. For their 
works all hail from a time in which the present 
stage usage was not yet adopted, or was less com- 
pulsory. And finally, in our time, patrons take the 
liberty of old friends, to chose the time of their 
departure, with no respect to the convenience of 
others. He who would now be at home on the 
stage, must submit to a usage which cannot at once 
be changed. The poet will then estimate his piece 
according to the number of verses ; and if this, as 
may be feared, extends beyond the stage time, he 
must once more examine it with reference to what 
may be omitted. 


When he has ended this severe labor of self-crit- 
icism, improving his piece as much as possible, 
then he may begin to think of preparing it for the 
public eye. For this work, an experienced theater 
friend is indispensable. The poet will seek such a 
one in the director or manager of a great stage. 
To him he will send his work in manuscript. Now 
begins a new examination, discussion, abridgement, 
till the wording is satisfactory for the presentation 
on the stage. If the poet has accepted the changes 
necessary to make his piece conform to its purpose, 
it is usually put at an early date on the boards, in 
the theater in connection with which he has confi- 
dently ventured his fortune. If it is possible for 
him to witness this performance, it will be very ad- 
vantageous to him, not so much, however, be- 
cause he at once perceives the disadvantages and 
defects of his work (for to young poets, self-knowl- 
edge comes seldom so quickly), as because, to the 
enperienced director of a stage, many weaknesses 
and redundancies of a piece first become apparent 
on its being performed. 

It is true that a poet's first connection with the 
stage is not free from discomfort. His anxiety about 
the reception of the piece creeps close about his 
brave heart. The abbreviated parts always cause 
pain ; and the striding on the half-dark stage be- 
comes painful on account of the secret uncertainty, 
and his consideration of the imperfect renderingof the 
actor. But this connection has also something that is 
refreshing and instructive : the trials, the appre- 


hension of the real stage pictures, the acquaintance 
with the customs and arrangements of the theater. 
And with a tolerable success of the play, the 
remembrance of the occasion remains, perhaps, a 
worthy possession of the poet in his later life. 

Here a warning. The young poet is to take part foi 
a few times in the rehearsal and in the presentation. 
He is to make himself acquainted with the details 
of the arrangement, the control of the entire com- 
bination, the wishes of the actors. But he is 
not to make a hobby of his pieces. He is not to 
persist in these too warmly ; he is not to seek the 
applause of new men too zealously. And, further, 
he is not to play the director, and is to mingle in 
the rehearsal only where it is positively urged. He 
is no actor, and he may scarcely, in the rush of 
rehearsal, correct what an actor is failing in. Let 
him notice what strikes him ; and let him discuss 
this later with the actor. The place of the poet is 
in the test of reading. Let him so arrange his 
work that if he has voice and practice, he himself 
may first read it aloud, and in a second rehearsal hear 
the actors read their roles. The good influence 
which he may exercise, will be best assured in this 

The great independence of different provinces 
has hindered in Germany the success of a piece on 
the stage in a capital city, from being a criterion of 
its success on the other stages of the country. A 
German play must have the good fortune of meet- 
ing success in eight or ten of the great theaters in 


different parts of Germany, before its course upon 
the rest may be assured. While the reputation of a 
piece which comes from the stronghold of Vienna 
determines, to a certain degree, its fate at the other 
theaters of the empire, the Berlin court theater has a 
still smaller circle in which it gives prestige. What 
pleases in Dresden displeases perhaps in Leipsic, 
and a success in Hanover insures no success in 
Brunswick. Meantime, the connection of the Ger- 
man theaters reaches so far, that the success of a 
piece on one or two respectable stages calls the 
attention of the others to it. Lack of attention to 
what is available everywhere is, in general, not the 
greatest reproach which at present can be cast upon 
the German stage. 

If a piece stood the test of a first appearance, 
there were formerly two ways of making its use 
more extensive. The first was to print the piece 
and send copies to different theaters ; the other was 
toxommit the manuscript to an agent to be pushed. 

Now, the Society of Dramatic Authors and Com- 
position at Leipsic, by its director, represents the 
rights and interests of its members among the differ- 
ent theaters ; it takes charge of the business of getting 
a piece on the stage, supervises its appearance on 
the boards, attends to the collection of the compen- 
sation (honoraria) and percentages. Whoever hasi 
to do with theaters, as a young writer, cannot now' 
dispense with the support of this society ; and it is 
to his interest to become a member. 

But besides this, it is desirable for a youngj 


author to come into close relations with the theaters 
themselves, their distinguished managers, leaders, 
and professors. In this way he becomes acquainted 
with theatrical life, its demands and its needs. 
Therefore, with his first piece let him take a mid- 
dle course. If his manuscript is printed (let him 
not use too small type and make the prompter 
weep over it), let him give it for the majority of 
theaters to the director of the Society ; let him 
reserve to himself, however, the transmission to and 
intercourse with some theaters from which he can 
expect particular demands. Besides, it is desirable 
to send copies of his work to individual prominent 
actors at famous theaters. He needs the warm de- 
votion and generous sympathy of the actors ; it will 
be friendly, too, for him to facilitate the study of 
their roles. A connection thus begun with the 
highly esteemed talent of the stage will not only be 
useful to the author ; it can win to him men of 
j)rominence, ardent admirers of the beautiful, per- 
haps helpful and faithful friends. To the German 
poet there is greater need of fresh suggestions, 
stimulating intercourse with cultivated actors, than 
any thing else ; for, in this way he attains most easily 
what too generally is lacking, an accurate knowledge 
of what is effective on the stage. Even Lessing 
learned this by experience. 

If the poet has done all this, on the reasonable 
success of his piece, he will soon, through a some- 
what extensive correspondence, be initiated into the 
secrets of stage life. 


And finally, when the young dramatist has in 
this way sent the child of his dreams out into the 
world, he will have sufficient opportunity to develop 
within himself something besides knowledge of the 
stage. It will be his duty to endure brilliant suc- 
cesses without haughtiness and conceit, and to 
accept sorrowful defeats without losing courage. 
He will have plenty of occasion to test and fashion 
his self-consciousness ; and in the airy realm of the 
stage, in face of the actors, the authors of the day, 
and the spectators, to 'make something of himself 
worth more than being a technically educated poet 
— a steadfast man, who not only perceives the 
beautiful in his dreams, but who shall be honestly 
determined unceasingly to represent it in his own 


Abasement of hero 71 

Accessories, essential 71 

Accessory figures 11, 32, 44 

Achilles 62,179, 283 

V Accidents 311, 314 

Acropolis 148 

Act defined 


divisions of 210 

of ascent igg 

of catastrophe 201 

of climax igo 

of introduction ig6 

of return 201 


Action 9, 19, 22, 27,^36 

about one person 305 

beginning of 29 

characters in. --266, 272, 

275, 276, 278 

chief thing 89 

double 44 

importance of 61 

influence of character-- 42 

length of 360, 361 

magnitude of 61 

movement in (£ 

probability of 49 

progress of 29 

qualities of 27 

rising 66 




subordinate 44 

time of 360 

construction of 196 

Acts, five 192, 210 

Actor and poet-. -300, 317, 

3I9» 321 
and verse 331 

Actors, number 145, 148 

personality --149, 257 

special roles 330 

three 162 

Adapting to stage 356, 358 

^gisthos 'j^)^ 174 

^schylus-25, 42, 75, n, 
112, 115, 141, 143, 146, 

148, 157, 162, 173 

Agamemnon ^j 

Furies 160 

Libation Pourers 173 

Persians 141 

Suppliants 42, 141 

After-creation 246 

Agamemnon --42, 62, 177, 283 

Aggregate effect 94 

Ajax-S7, 107, 112,153, 154, 

156, 158, 161, 162, 176, 177 
Ajax--42, 45, 153, 161, 162, 

164, 176 

Alba __ 225 

Alcestis 112 

Alexandrine 326, 329 

Alphonso 197, 201 



Andromache -- 112 

Anne-- 256 

Antigone, loj^iy^* I53» I54, 

155,158, 170, 311 

plot of -- 170 

Antigone, 42, 75. I37. 152, 
153. 154, 155, 158, 164. 

170, 171, 175, 314 

Antonio 197, 199, 200, 201 

Antony and Cleopatra^ 

41, 71, 186, 245, 306 

Antony 71, 72, 95, 100, 

132, 256, 306 

Apollo-- 173 

Aphrodite 116 

Aristotle, 5, 6, 26, 36 ,86, 88, 

89, 93, 98, 100, 103, 308 

Poetics of 6, loi, 247 

Appiani - 198 

Arrangement of parts 210 

Art and nature 299, 300 

Artist as hero 68 

Ase-god 292 

Athene 57, 161, 162 

Athenian 341 

play, length of 146 

poets 141 

stage 36,69,101, 112, 140 

tragedy 141, 171 

Athenians-- -6, 7, 153, 158, 

160, 163, 164, 202, 360 

Attic criticism 3, 158 

market I44 

orations - 148 

poet 91, 157 

stage, 112, 143, 147. 151. 

152, 154, 181 

tragedy 282 

Audience and poet 354 

Auditor - - 50, 51 

Auerbach 241 

Aufidius--76, 131, 136, 184, 

187. 258 
Augustus Caesar 216 

Banquo 59, 186 

Baumgarten 123, 197 

Beaumarchais 120, 122 

Benvolio 126 

Berlin 364 

Bertha 200 

Black Knight 60 

Blasius von Boiler 10 

Bohemia 50 

Bohemian cup 221, 237 

Bride of Messina 228, 242 

Brunhild 285 

Brutus, 82, 95, 118, 121, 123, 
124, 132, 135. 136, 186, 

229, 254, 255, 256, 316 

Burleigh 212, 213 

Burlesque play 146 

Burnam Wood 136 

Buttler -78, 204,207, 

237. 316 

Caesar Julius 59, 77, 95, 
100, 121, 123, 135, 224, 

254, 255 265, 337 

Caesura 325,326, 327 

Calderon 341 

Camp 209 

Canossa ---39. 293, 

294, 295 
Capulets---32,34, 122, 123, 

126, 182 

Casca 256 

Cassandra - -- 77 



Cassius--ii9, 121, 124, 186, 

224, 254, 256 

Catastrophe 35, 114 

act of 201 

defined 137 

difficulties in 138 

double-- 206 

in Antigone - -- - - - 171 

law of 139 

Sophocles 169 

Cause and effect 311 

Chance 35 

Character of poet 134, 366 

Characterization — 

methods of 250, 251 

German 250, 251 

Romances 250, 251 

in different poets _ 252 

Shakespeare's 258 

Characters 21, 246 

action influenced by 42, 

266, 272, 275, 276, 278 

chief 249 

prominence of 23, 231 

defining 247 

dramatic life of 22 

female 262 

humorous 310 

in .^schylus 162 

in Euripides 252 

in Goethe 262 

m Hamlet 190, 192, 193 

\n Iliad 290 

in Lessing 259 

in Nibelungen 290 

in Odyssey 290 

in Shakespeare 253 

in Schiller 264 

jn Sophocles 165 

impelling force of 258 

last century 262 

laws concerning 303, 314 

material and-- 266 

minor changes in 332 

motive not marvelous- 307 
must be good and evil 308 
must show one side-- 303 
must guide action 310, 314 

must be true 274 

on stage 262, 297 

personality ot 310 

subordinate 256, 259 

unity of 304 

weakness of 65 

with portraiture 273 

Charlemagne 50 

Charles V 267, 268 

Chief effect 71 

hero conquered 106, 107 

reaction on 106, 306 

triumphant 106 

Christian 343 

Christianity 293,. 294 

Chorus 140, 142 

Chrysomethis 48,173, 174 

Clara 139 

Claudia *__- 199 

Clavigo,.--^-},, 49, 107, 119, 

120, 122, 130, 223 

Clavigo 120, 130, 262, 314 

Cleopatra 71, 72, 239 

Climax 105, 114, 130, 131 

actof 199 

defined 128 

scene 199 

Sophocles 161 

Clytemnestra,---42, 62, 77, 

152, 166, 173,283 

Closed stage 19c 

Colloquy scenes 145 



Color — 

a creation _ 340 

and language 339 

and verse 323 

in poet's soul 336 

Comparisons 298 

Complication 121 

Concert speech — 243 

Conradin 97 

^Construction of drama 104 

of scenes 210 

in Sophocles 140 

Contest on Attic stage- 143, 147 
Conti 120 

Contrast — 

in character 163, 164 171 

in scenes 81 

necessary 44, 223 

Sophocles 161 

Cordelia 135, 257, 310, 314 

Coriolanus 27, 131, 187, 258 

Coriolanus 76, 131, 135, 

136, 187, 246, 258 

Costume, changes of 214 

Greek 147 

historical 337 

Counterplay --45, 104, 122, 

128, 130, 185, 186 

in introduction 120, 220 

Counterplayers — 125, 162, 

180, 200, 235, 253, 272 

Craftsman's rules 3 

Creation and after-creation 249 
Creon45, 137.JLS2, 158, 165, 

170, 171, 172,211, 314 

Crises three 114 

Cromwell 96 

Curtain, effects of 193, 215 

Custom, national 69 

Cutting out--- ---356, 357 

Daja 118 

Danger in hero's leading-- 109 

Davison 213 

Deed concealed ']'] 

Deianeira loi, 153, 

166, 176 

Delivery, methods of 336 

Demetrius 238, 239, 263 

Desdemona 121 

Deveroux __- 316 

Devil 55, 57 

Dialogue scenes-- 170, 221, 

223, 225 

Dionysu s -_--._ .-. ^ :-.... jg^^ 

Dionysian festivals --- 141, 147 

Director's help 362, 365 

Director Scenes 212 

Distributed voices 244 

Don Carlos- -loi, 223, 306, 348 
Drama — 

acts in--- 195 

Attic 18, 45, 112, 143, 147, 

306, 334, 343 

beginning of 25 

construction of 104 

double 206 

five parts of — 114 

Germanic-- 181, 184, 193, 334 

in two halves 105 

modern-- 195 

musicand 88 

reading-- 344 

three crises in _- 114 

Dramatic — 

action 9 

art 19 

characters 246 

characterization 249 

composition 344 






forces or moments — 18, 





what is 

Dramatis personcs 

Dramatist and spectator. . 

Double action 

danger in 

Double drama 

Double tragedy 


Duncan yj. 


Edipus, see CEdipus 

Edmund 135, 136, 

Effect and cause 

Effects, great only 

heightened 79, 

in supreme moment 

of old drama 

on Attic stage 



Egmont --41, 139, 240, 308, 




Electra .-48, "](>, 152, 

Electra yd, yj, 164, 167, 

174, 176, 

Elizabeth 55, in, 132, 

199, 202, 212, 

21 Emilia Galotti 49, 109, 

52 120, 122, 130, 197, 198, 

19 199, 201, 259, 307 

Emilia Galotti — ^^6, 120, 

211 130, 197, 198, 199, 207 

330 Enobarbus 236 

43 Epic- - 18 

330 heroes 278-282 

19 material 278,279 

21 narrative 36 

52 tradition 279,284 

44 Episodes --- 47, 134 

46 in Goethe - 49 

206 in Lessing 48 

202 in Shakespeare 48 

341 in Schiller 49 

119 j_n Sophocle s 48 

Eschylus, see ^schylus-- 

Euripides, 25, 26, 42, 43, 62, 

89, 112, 115, 142, 143, 

129 157, 158, 166, 173, 282, 

284, 296 

311 Alcestis 112 

311 Andromache 112 

134 Hecuba 26, 116 

153 Helena 112 

yd Hippolytus 116, 157 

90 Iphigenia in Aulis- -62, 283 

151 Medea 157 

283 Eurydice -IZi- 

204 Events behind scenes 73 

on stage 74, 75 

324 Exciting force or moment 
225 52, 114, 115, 121, 123, 

54 127, 172-5, 197 

172 convenient arrangement 125 

diverse forms 123 

283 double 205,206 

no elaboration 124 

306 ' Exposition 21 



Fall of action 115 

False unity 38 

Falstaff 46 

Faust- S7>^^, 116, 122, 189, 

241, 263 

Faust---i22, 165, 227,241, 263 

Ferdinand 100,111, 127 

Field of poet now 342 

Figures of Sop hocles-—-- 1 66 

Final suspense 135 

First player- -1 49, I54, 158, 178 

Five acts 192, 196 

Force — 

final suspense 135, 137 

irrational 98 

tragic -- 95 

Formula 12, 13 

Francis 267 

Franconian 275 

Frederick the Great 273 

French 28, 196,326, 329 

Friedland - -- 204 

Galotti --198, 307 

German — 
actor 317 

hero 110,255,290, 291 

life -- 254 

method 265 

poets. -1 10, 200, 226, 259, 
281, 328, 342, 343, 350, 

353. 356, 365 
stage --III, 116, 263,285, 

308, 337, 363, 364 
Germanic drama-7, 81, 155, 

181, 184, 193. 254, 334 

Germans 24, 25, 28, 41, 


77, 80, 84, no, 114, 120, 
127, 128, 195, 199, 200, 
223, 226, 246, 247, 265, 
279, 284, 285, 289, 293, 

308, 360 
Germany- -96, 98, 245, 253, 

325, 341, 363 

Ghost- 186 

Gloucester 45 

Goethe-- 1, 2, 8, 43, 49, 61, 
153, 227, 228, 240, 259, 
262, 263, 278, 306, 329, 

343. 359 
Clavi^o--\2>A9y io7> HQ. 

122, 130, 233 
Egmont-^\, 139, 240,308, 

316, 324 
Faust-- -57, 61, 116, 122, 

189, 246, 263 

Goetz von B 40, 240, 308 

Iphigenia 43.49. 120 

Natural Daughter 324 

Tasso 43, 49, 112, 118, 

197, 198, 199, 201 
Goetz von Berlichingen, 40, 

240, 314 
Great poets compared, 1 10, 222 

Great strokes 134 

Greeks^- -28, 42,43. 45. 47. 
90, 91, 92, 94, 98, lOI, 
102, 103, 113, 137, 144, 
149, 153, 158, 246, 279, 

28u. 284, 289, 325, 33^^ 

Greek acting -149, 152 

^actors 75 

drama- --3, 7, 18, 45. 3o6, 

334, 343 
costume 75 

heroes- 102, 158, 290, 29i,.3i6_ 



subjects 143 

tragedyrrmeon 40, '222, 

282,335, 336 
.development- 14 1, 142, 143 

Gretchen 122, 123,226, 

227, 262, 278 

Ground mood 80 

Gustavus Adolphus - 268 

Hades— JS3 

Haemon--45, 152, 158, 170, 171 

Halle .....__-r----'269 

Hamburgische Dramatur- 
gic 6 

Hamlet- - 1 18, 1 19, 186, 188, 

190, 191, 192, 258 

analysis of 190, 191, 

192, 193 

Hamlet 48, 59. 123, 124, 

136, 165, 180, 186, 190-3, 
218, 219, 220, 253, 314, 
273, 287, 288, 289, 293, 

295, 347 

Hapsburg-- 347 

Hebrews 54 

Hecuba... 26, 116 

Helena -- 112 

Hellenes 24, 192, 342 

Henry IV -- 45 

Henry IV 39. 293-5 

Hejiry V 26 

Henry VI 27 

Henry VIII 273 

Hercules 154, 176, I79. 181 

Hero abasement oTTr-rrCT y'i 

and audience 308 

and color- -- 33^ 

character 62 

chief - -- 306 

classes unavailable for- 

64. 65 

double- — 128,305, 306 

end of 128 

German and Greek J290 

Greek- 102, 158, 248 

historical-— -273, 287-9, 

293-5» 347 

single 304 

talked about 317 

Heroic accounts 71 

Hesse-- 267 

Hexameter 326, 327, 342 

Hindoos 54 

Heightened effects 79 

Hippolytus 116, 157 

Historic idea 37 

Historian and poet - 16, 39, 

67, 266, 274, 349 
Historical material- 15, 37, 

41, 296, 336, 346, 347 

heroes in 273,347, 3^4 

Hohenstaufen 275, 337, 347 

Hohenzollern 70 

Holy One 292 

Homer 284 

Hovel scene 188 

Hroswith 344 

Humor 129 

basis of 310 

in chief character 310 

Hyllos loi, 176 

lago 83, 121,253, 368 

Iambic hexameter 326, 327 

Iambic pentameter - - -324, 

328, 329 
in German and English 325 




in Goethe 329 

in Lessing 330 

in Schiller 329 

Idea of drama 9, 1 1 

Idea of Wallenstein 205 

Ideal figures 340 

Idealization of history- -40, 

267, 296, 308 

Iffland III 

Iliad 290 

Immermann 325 

Inheritance of poet 341 

Intensification of soul 24 

Introduction- -1 14, 115,118, 

123, 196 

structure of 120 

Invention 11 

Inventor as hero 68 

Involution 121 

Ion 112 

Ion 103 

Iphigenia ■•-43, 49, 120 

Iphigenia 45, 49, 50, 62, 

103, 283 

Iphigenia in Aulis 62, 283 

Iphigenia in Tauris 112 

Irrational forces 98 

Ismene— 45, 48, 165, 170 


Japanese 54 

Jews 343 

Jocasta loi, 153, 172 

Juliet-34, 35,36,95,99* ioo» 
122, 126, 127, 135, 183, 

187,306,311, 314 

lulius Ccesar 27, 80, 82, 

119, 120, 121, 126, 132, 

153, 186, 244, 256 

Julius Caesar 59, 'j'j, 95, 

100, 121, 123, 135, 224, 

253, 254, 255, 265, 337 
Justice on either side 105 


Kolb 127 

Katchen of Heilbronn 116 

Keeping things silent 78 

Kennedy 118 119, 167 

Keynote 119 

Kleist 280 

Kriemhild 280 

Kritz 10 

Lady Macbeth _- 135, 188 

Laertes - - —^^.JJ^ 

Lai us - -^--^- - _-,=,^ - SIj JLZiiJT^ 

Language and color 339 

and poet 338 

Last suspense 115 

Latins 24, 114,250, 279 

Laws, minor of characters 303 
Lear.-rj, 45, 129, 135, 136, 

186, 187, 188,258, 311. 

Leicester 199,202, 212 

Length of play 360, 361 

Leipsic 364 

Leonora 199, 200, 201 

Lessing-2, 6, 8, 43, 48, 84, 
193, 198, 200, 201, 223, 
259, 260, 262, 306, 307, 

317, 365 
Emilia Galotti--\<^, 107, 
120, 122, 130, 198, 200, 
201, 223, 254, 260, 262, 

306, 307, 317, 365 
Hamburgische Drania- 
turgie ^ 



Minna Von Barnhclm 

49, 261 
Nathan The lVise-.-/ig, 

118, 261 
Sara Sampson- 120, 260, 261 

Lepidus 236 

Likation Pourers 173 

Lichas 154 

Limits of poet 51 

Laurence 33, 34, 35, 126, 

127, 136. 313 

Louise 10, 100, no, 128 

Love and Intrigue- - 13, 28, 

43,76,100,107,127,264, 305 
Love scenes-226, 228, 22g, 

278, 288, 298 

Lucius 82 

Luther 96,273, 348 


Macbeth -27, 60, 77, 83, 118, 

119, 186, 258, 276 
Macbeth -59, 123, 127, 136, 

158, 186, 244 

Macbeth, Lady 135, 188 

Macdonald 216 

Macduff 188, 244 

Maid of Orleans — 49, 60, 

107, 116, 241, 265 

Manager's help 365 

Manuel 265 

Margaret 229 

Maria Theresa 348 

Marie 130 

Marinelli-120, 197, 198, 199, 201 

Martha 227 

Marvelous : 53 

Mary 120, 132, 197, 199, 

200, 202, 306 

Mary Stuart- - - 13, 99, 1 1 1, 
118, 119, 120, 122, 124, 
125, 132, 197, 199, 200, 
201, 202, 207, 208, 212, 348 

Mary Stuart- 95, 119 

Material 14 

from epic 43 

historical 15, 296,344-49 

modern 157 

novel 43 

old 344 

onesidedness in 44 

Max 204, 205, 206, 207, 

235, 237, 265, 271, 272, 306 

Medea 157 

Melfort 260, 262 

Melchthal 198, 338 

Menas 236 

Menelaus 62, 161, 1^7 

Mercha?it of Ve7iice 83 

Mercutio 32 33, 48, 96, 126 

Mephistopheles-57, 58, 122, 227 

Merovingians 286 

Messenger scenes-72, 116, 

145, 170, 220 
Middle ages-285, 286, 292, 

293. 295, 343 

Middle class life 113 

Milford 47, 128 

Minnavon Barnhelm--/^o, 261 

Minna 259 

Minor rules 303 

Modern theater 342 

Moliere 250 

Moments or forces 196 

Moment of last suspense. 115 

Monologue 219, 220 

Moods unexpressed 70 

Moor 121 

Moritz 267 



Mortimer 122, 123, 197, 

1 99, 200, 212 

Motive, broad 82, no, 123 

repeated 29, 42 

Movement of action 66 

Murder scenes 132 

Mysteries on stage 58 


Narrative remodeled 30 

Nathan The Wise-\% 118, 260 

Nathan 118 

National custom 69 

Nature and art 299, 300 

Natural Datighter 324 

Neoptolemus-ioi, 158, 177, 

178, 179, 180 

Nessos loi 

New persons 187 

New roles 200 

Nibehmgeii .- 279, 284, 290, 327 
Number of persons 216 

Octavianus 71 

Octavio--204, 206, 237, 238, 271 

Odoardo 201, 307 

Odysseus-42, 103, 161, 162, 
165, 177, 178, 179, 180, 

181, 280 

Odyssey 281, 290 

Qi.di'piis at Coionos- - ^, 48^ . 


12, 150, 156, 160, 

^di^MS, King-- -107, 155, 

CEdipus-.--7, 167, 168, 171, , 

172,. 175 
Old Fritz 348 

Old material-- 350, 351 

One hero 304 

Opening scene 117 

Opera like effects 283 

Ophelia 189 

Opposing characters 107 

Orange- 225 

Oration scenes 133 

Orestes 42, 76, 152, 165, 

I73> 174 
Orsina 49, 201 

Othello, 14, 27, 83, 100, 107, 

121, 122, 123, 130, 258 

Othello-- 45, 130,310, 314 

Otto 285, 337 

Parallelisms in verse- 
in scenes 

in German and Greek- - 
Paris. 34, 35,36, 76, 99,122 

Parody, Greek- - 

Parricida 49, 81, 

Parts of drama 

summary of 



Pathos scene s, 132, 142, I4'>. 
170, 174, 177, 




People and poets 


P^eripctcia . . . 











Personality of poet 


Persons in Greek drama- 
Phillip _-.- 






Philoctetes---\Q\, 112, 138, 

153, 174, 178 
Philoctetcs---i64, 165, 167, 

178, 179, 180 
Piccolojnini-.\\Z, 202, 205, 

206, 207, 236, 305 

Piccolomini 237, 238, 270 

Pilsen 203 

Play and counter play 114 

order of parts 169 

Shakespeare's 182 

Sophocles' and Teutonic 155 

spectacle in 

symmetry of 182 

time of acting-- 167, 360, 361 
Player, first-- 149, 154, 158, 178 

second 150, 154, 158, 178 

third-,- 150, 154, 180, 228, 229 
Players, number limited-- 234 
of Shakespeare's time-- 182 
Players and poets -300, 317, 

3i9» 321, 355 

Plot of y^y^.r 176 

Antig07te 170 

Electra III'l-- 172 

_ CEdipus K^ing-^ - - — - - - 1 71 

CEJipus at Colonos 174 

/ 'hiloctctes - 177 

Trachhiian Women 176 

and poet 351 

Poet as actor and director 342 

and audience 354 

books 351 

character 86, 134 

field 342 

hero 350, 351 

historian- -67, 266, 274, 347 

limit — 51 

material 346, 347 

people 246 



stage 343, 362, 

task . 

tra gedy- 

"work —341, 3447 

Poetic energy 


Poetics, Aristotle's — 5, 6, 
Poetics, Greek. 
Political history. 



Po lynices 170, 

Pompey- H'T - ul-.j?^ 


Premises, monstrous of 

^S ophocles 


in Sop hoole.?- - - 155, 168, 









m Teutonic drama 159 

Prince of Hombtirg, 38, 70, 

112, 139, 324 

Probability of action . 49 

Prolixity 359 

Prologue 115, 168 

Prometheus 57, 166 

Properties 338 

Prose and drama 323, 328 

Protagonist 154 

Public, influence of 309 

Purification 87, 93 

Pylades 76 

Pyramidal structure, 114, 

153, 218, 225 

Qualities of action 27 

Queen Mab 48 

Questenberg, 118, 203, 207, 269 



Raumer — 275 

Reaction, beginning of--- 99 
Reaction in poet's mind-- 354 

Reading drama 344 

Recognition scenes- --101, 

145, 169 

Recha 259 

Reflex action--- 74 

Reformation 288 

Relief before catastrophe. 136 

Religious changes 292 

Repetition of motive 82 

Return action 115, 133, 

166, 177, 186, 187, 188, 200 

jRevolution loi, 145, 1 69 

Riccault 49 

Richard III. ---27,41, 118, 
121, 122, 186, 229, 244, 

256, 276 

Richard III 59, 83, 136, 

148, 186, 253, 304, 308, 316 

Richmond 37 

Rise of action 69, 115 

scenes of 128 

Rising movement- 125, 126 

rules for 125 

Roderigo 83, 121 

Roles, celebrated 223 

chief 306 

collective 162, 341 

distribution of-- 149, 156, 162 

great, limited 304 

kinds of 143 

length of 148 

not interchangeable 320 

number of 133 

of Euripides 283 

of second half of play-- 316 
subordinate 256 

Romans 24, 28, 95, 279, 

289, 290, 308 

Roman stage 195, 343 

Romeo and Juliet- - 27, 30, 
76,82,99, 118, 122,123, 

124, 187,258,305, 311 
Romeo- --32, 33, 34, 36,95, 
100, 123, 124, 127, 135, 
136, 165, 182, 183, 187, 

226, 306, 311, 316 

Romulus 338 

Rosalind 32 

Rudenz 200, 306 

Rules, craftsmen's 3 

minor 303 

Riitli 198, 199 

Sapieha 240 

Sa ra Sampson - - - 1 20, 260, 26 1 

Sara 259, 260 

Saxon . 347 

Scenes 210, 211 

balcony .-. 227 

changed relation 224 

devices for 241 

dialogue 221,223, 225 

director 212 

double 212 

ensemble 229-245 

battle 244 

camp 244 

devices 241 

difficulties ---232,233, 241 

galley 235 

mass 242 

pageant 241 

parliament 239, 240 

populace 240, 241 

rules for -231, 232 



Rutli -- 238, 239 

signature 237 

time of 234 

five parts of 217 

in Mary Shiaj-t-- - 212 

jumble in.- 217 

love --226-229, 278, 298 

danger in 228 

monologue 219 

number of persons 216 

order of parts 213 

parallel 82 

poets' 212 

pyramidal form 225 

sequence of 133, 353 

structure 210 

technique 223 

third person in 228 

Scenery 338 

shifting 215 I 

Scenic contrasts 81 

Scythians .-_ 282 

Schiller-2, 4, 8, 14, 17, 40, 
43, 46, 49, 60,61, 69,78, 
81, 107, no, 132, 195, 
208, 220, 227, 236, 240, 
242, 259, 262, 263, 265, 
268, 269, 271, 272, 298, 
306, 316, 324, 341, 348, 

354, 356, 360 
Bride of Messina-- -22%, 242 
Demetrius --i\,i, 238, 239, 

240, 263 

Do7i Carlos 43,46, 348 

Love and Intrigue--. 13, 
28, 76, 100, 107, no, 

127, 264, 305 
Maid of Orleans -\c), 60, 

107, n6, 241 
Ma7'y Stuart. -\T„ 43, 46, 

100, ni, nS, ng, 120, 
122, 124, 125, 130, 197, 
199, 200, 201, 202, 204, 

207, 208, 212, 348 
Piccolomini, 1 18, 202, 205, 

206, 207, 236, 305 

Robbers 263, 306 

7>//---43, 46, 49, 81, 123, 
197, 199, 200, 201, 202, . 

228, 238 
lVallenstein---^o, 43, 46, 
72, 78, 107, n6, n9, 
120, 202, 2g6, 207, 208, 
220, 223, 228, 308, 3n, 316 

Camp 209 

Death 206, 217 

Scribe 341 

Semiramis 337 

Sequence of scenes 133 

Serious drama ni 

Sesina 206 

Shakespeare-- -7, 8, 25, 27, 
29, 34, 40, 41, 43.45,46, 
48, 58, 59,62,69,71,81, 
82, 83, 107, no, n3, 
\i6, n8, n9, 120, 123, 
128, 181, 182, 183, 184, 
185, 186, 187, 189, 193, 
196, 200, 227, 228, 235, 
237, 241, 244, 245, 252, 
255, 256, 258, 259, 273, 
298, 306, 310, 314, 330, 
341, 349, 354, 356, 360 
Anthojiy and Cleopatra 

41, 71, 189, 245, 306 
Coriolanus--2j, 130, 131, 

135, 187, 258 

Hanilet n8, n9, 186, 

188, 190, 191, 192, 193, 258 
Henry IV.... --- 45 



Henry V. 26 

Hen?y VI. _ 27 

Henry VIII. 273 

Julius Ccesar-2'j, 80, 82, 
119, 120, 126, 132, 186, 

244, 256 
Lear-2j, 45, 107, 129, 186, 

188, 258, 311 
Macbeth- -I"], jj, 83, 118, 

119, 186, 258, 276 

Merchant of Venice 83 

Othello ---\\, 27, 83, 100, 

107, 121, 122, 123, 130, 258 
Richa7-d 111.-2'], \\, 118, 
121, 122, 186, 229, 244, 

256, 276 
Romeo and Juliet -21, yi, 
76, 82, 99, 118, 122, 126, 

133, 187,258,305, 311 

Timon of A the7is 62 


actors -- 184 

audiences 183 

ardor for heroes 187 

change of scenes 185 

characters 2^ 

characteristics 186 

drama 189 

heroes and action--- 185, 

252, 258 

method -185, 189, 258 

spirits 58 

stage 181 

technique 184-193 

times 184-194 

Shylock 50, 253 

Society of Dramatic Auth- 
ors 364 

SftphoxOfes- -7, 8, 25, 42, 43, 
47, 75, 81, 91, 92, 98, 

no, 112, 


[41, 146, 147. 148 ^149. 
50, 15 3, 2.55. 

Ajax-\\2, 153, 154, 156, 

158, 161, 162, 176, 177 
Antigone- - .107, 137, I53 ,._ 


Electra 1^4^77671527172' 

(Edipits at Colonos- 7, 

48, 112, 156, 160, 167, 174 
QLdipus, King--\oi, 107, 

155, 171. 178 
Philoctetes-ioi, 112, 133, 

153. ^77, 178 
Trach in ian Women - 1 o i , 

153. .154, 176 

episodes in 47 

Soul processes 39, 104 

Spanish 29, 222 

Speech and reply 222, 229 

Spectacle play iii 

on modern stage 112 

tragedyand 113 

Spectator and dramatist- - 32 

Spirits not dramatic 56 

in comedy 57 

in Shakespeare 58 

Stauffacher 197,238, 239 

Stenzel 275 

Stimulation 97 

Structure of drama io4i| 

of scenes 210" 

Struggle, tragic 85 

of Greek hero 159 

of Teutonic hero 159 

Superhuman-- 55 

Supernatural 55 

Suppliants 42, 141 



Suspense final 133 

force of 135, 137 

Swedes 204, 206,221, 311 

Swiss 197, 198, 199, 201, 306 

Tableaux 317 

Tasso.. i2,i9> 113. 118, 197, 

198, 199, 201, 359 

Tasso 197,201,202, 314 

Tecmessa 45, 162, 177 

Technique 4, 8 

not absolute i 

not enough 322 

of versification 329 

7>// 43, 49, 80, 197, 199, 

200, 201, 202, 228, 238 

Tell 197, 198,201, 

265, 306 

Tellheim 260, 262 

Tcmpler 260 

Terzky 228,237, 273 

Testing 359 

Tcucros 153, 162, 177 

Teutonic 91,94,226, 254 

Theatre, modern 342 

Theb es 103, 171, 175 

TheinarT2057^o5r22Tr228, 265" 

Theseus 158, 165, 175 

Thoas _" 50 

Time of action 360 

Tim on of A tJicns 62 

Tiresias 152, 158, 171 

Tone color 328 

Trachinia7i Women- - 1 53, 

154, 176 

Tragedy--- 81, 87 

Athenian 140 

double -,- 202 

Greek 222, 282 

influence of 87 

kind of second iii 

Tragic, what is 7, 84 

aggregate effect 94 

causal connection 97 

force or moment-95, in, 

115. 130, 131. 132 

s j n G reejj;- , 100 

in real life 

narrower sense 94 

place of 100 

scene of 99 

two meanings 86 

Trilogy 147, 157, 173 

Tristan 285 

Trochaic tetrameter 325 

Two arrangements 105 

Two heroes 128 

Tybalt--33, 34, 76, 98, 99. 

126, 127, 136 


Unit, logical 213 

Unity of action 9,27, 36 

place 29 

time 29 

Unity, false -I- -- 38 

Unusual, the--, 54 

Urians - -_ 238 

Verona - 30 

Verse and color 323 

and drama 324 

dramatic recital 330 

Vienna 364 

Virgin Mary 56, 60, 61 

Voices distributed 244 

Volscians ']6, 185 




IVallenstem-^o, 43, 72, 78, 
107, 116, 119, 120, 165, 

202, 206, 207, 220, 223, 



Death 206, 

five acts of 

Wallenstein -16, 17, 40, 45, 

203, 204, 205, 206, 207, 
220, 265, 268, 269, 270, 

271,272,306, 316 



Walter FiJrst 


Will and deed 

Witches in Macbeth --.60, 

Women's parts 

Work, poet and his- 

not easy .__ 


Wrangel-204, 206, 207,223, 






Note i, page i8. — Even Aristotle comprehended most 
thoroughly this first part of the poet's work, the fashioning and 
developing of the poetic idea. If, in comparison v^ath history, 
he makes poetry the more significant and philosophical, because 
poetry represents what is common to all men, while history 
gives an account of the incidental, or special detail ; and 
because history presents what has happened, while poetry 
shows how it could have happened, — yet we moderns, 
impressed with the weight and grandeur of historical ideas, 
must reject his comparative estimate of the two fundamentally 
different kinds of composition ; we shall, however, concede 
the fine distinction in his definition. He indicates, in a sen- 
tence immediately following this and often misunderstood, 
the process of idealization. He says, IX., 4 : " That which in 
poetry is common to humanity, is produced in this w^ay, — the 
speeches and actions of the characters are made to appear 
probable and necessary ; and that which is humanly universal 
poetry works out from the raw material and then gives to the 
characters appropriate names," — whether using those already 
at hand in the raw material or inventing new ones. (Buckley's 
translation is as follows : But universal consists indeed in 
relating or performing certain things which happen to a man 
of a certain description, either probably or necessarily, to 
which the aim of poetry is directed in giving names.) Aris- 
totle was of the opinion, too, that a poet would do well at the 
beginning of his work to place before himself the material 
which had attracted him, in a formula stripped of all inciden- 
tals, or non-essentials ; and he develops this idea more fully in 
another place, XVII., 6,7: " The Iphigenia and the Orestes of 
the drama are not at all the same as those in the material 
which came to the poet. For the poet who composed the play 


384 NOTES. 

it is almost an accident that they bear these names. Only when 
the poet has raised his actions and his characters above the 
incidental, the real, that which has actually happened, and in 
place of this has put a meaning, a significance which will be 
generally received, which appears to us probable and necessary, 
— only then is he again to make use of color and tone, names 
and circumstances, from the raw material." Therefore it is 
also possible that dramas which have been taken from very 
different realms of material, express, fundamentally, the same 
meaning, or, as we put it, represent the same poetical idea. 
This is the thought in the passages cited. 

Note 2, page 22. — The few technical terms used in this 
book must be received by the reader without prejudice and 
without confusion. In their common use for the last century 
several of them have passed through many changes of mean- 
ing. What is here called ac tion, the m aterial alre ady arranged 
ioLrLih£Ldraina.j;in Aristotle, myth; in the Latin writers, fable), 
Lessing sometimes still calls fable, while the raw material, the 
praxis or the pragma of Arist otle^ e calls action. But Lessing 
also sometimes uses the word action more correctly, giving it 
the meaning which it has here. 

Note 3, page 28. — As is well known, unity of place is not 
demanded by Aristotle ; and concerning the uninterrupted con- 
tinuity of time he says only that tragedy should try as far as 
possible to limit its action to one course of the sun. Among 
the Greeks, as may be shown, it was only Sophocles and his 
school who, in the practice of their art, adhered to what we call 
the unity of place and of time. And with good reason. The 
rapid, condensed action of Sophocles, with its regular struc- 
ture, needed so very short a part of the story or tradition that 
the events underlying it could frequently occur in the same 
brief space of a few hours which the representation on the 
stage required. If Sophocles avoided such a change of scene, 
as, for example, occurs in ^Esehylus's Eumenides, he had a 
peculiar reason. We know that he thought much of scenic 
decoration ; he had introduced a more artistic decoration of 
the background; and for his theatrical day he positively 
needed for the four pieces four great curtains, which with the 
gigantic proportions of the scene at the Acropolis occasioned 

NOTES. 385 

an immense outlay. A change of the entire background during 
the representation was not allowable ; and the mere transposi- 
tion of the periakte, if these had been introduced at all in the 
time of Sophocles, would be to the taste of an ancient stage 
director as imperfect an arrangement as the change of side cur- 
tains, without the change of background, would be to us. It 
may not be so well known that Shakespeare, who treats time 
and space with so much freedom, because the fixed architecture 
of his stage spared him from indicating, or made it easy for 
him to indicate the change of scenes, presented his pieces on a 
stage which was the unornamented successor of the Attic pros- 
,cenium. This proscenium had been gradually transformed by 
slight changes into the Roman theater, the mystery-platform 
of the middle ages, and the scaffold of Hans Sachs. On the 
other hand, the same classical period of the French theater, 
which so rigidly and anxiously sought to revive the Greek tra- 
ditions, has bequeathed us the deep, camera-like structure of 
our stage, which had its origin in the needs of the ballet and 
the opera. 

Note 4, page 31. — The details of the novel, and what 
Shakespeare changed in it, may be here passed over. 

Note 5, page 46. — It is a poor expedient of our stage direc- 
tors to neutralize or render harmless the weakest of these 
groups, the Attinghausen family, by cutting their roles as 
much as possible, and then depreciating them still more by 
committing them to weak actors. The injury is by this means 
all the more striking. This play of Schiller's should either be 
so presented as to produce most completely the effects intended 
by the author, in which case the three barren roles, Freiherr, 
Rudenz, Bertha, must be endowed with sufficient force, — our 
actors can thus express their gratitude to the poet who has 
done so much for them ; or else, the Tell action only should be 
presented as it may be most easily made effective on our stage, 
and the three roles should be entirely stricken out, — a thing 
that is possible with very slight changes. 

Note 6, page 47. — Even in the time of the Greeks the 
word, episode, had a little history. In the earliest period of the 
drama it denoted the transition from one choral song to the 

386 NOTES. 

following: then, after the introduction of actors, first, the 
short speeches, messenger-scenes, dialogues, and so forth, 
which comprised the transitions and motives for the new 
moods of the chorus. After the extension of these recited 
parts the word remained, in the developed drama, as an old 
designation of any part of the drama which stood between two 
choral songs. In this meaning it nearly corresponds to our act, 
or more accurately, to our elaborated scene. In the workshop 
of the Greek poet it became a designation of that part of the 
action which the poet with free invention inserted as a richer 
furnishing, as a means of animating his old mythological 
material; for instance, in Antigone, that scene between Anti- 
gone, Ismene, and Creon,in which the innocent Ismene declares 
herself an accomplice of her sister. In this signification, an 
episode might fill the entire interval between two choral songs; 
but as a rule it was shorter. Its places were generally in the 
rising action, only occasionally in the return action — our sec- 
ond, and fourth act. Because with this meaning it denoted 
little portions of the action, which might indeed have origi- 
nated in the most vital necessities of the drama, but which were 
not indispensable for the connection of the events ; and 
because since Euripides, poets have sought more and more fre- 
quently for effect-scenes which stood in very loose connection 
with the idea and the action, — there came to be attached to 
the word this secondary meaning of an unmotived and arbi- 
trary insertion. In The Poetics the word is used in all of the 
three meanings : in XII., 5, it is a stage-manager's term ; in 
XVII., 8-10, it is a technical expression of the poet; in X., 3, 
it has its secondary significance. 

Note 7, page 72. — The structure of the drama is disturbed 
by this irregularity in the ordering of the action, which appears 
like a relapse into the old customs of the English popular thea- 
ter. The action offered in the material and the idea was as 
follows : Act I. Antony at Cleopatra's, and his separation 
from her. Act II. Reconciliation with Caesar, and restoration 
to power. Act III. Return to the Egyptian woman, with cli- 
max. Act IV. Sacrifice of principle, flight, and last struggle. 
Act V. Catastrophe of Antony and of Cleopatra. But the 
deviation of Shakespeare's play from the regular structure is 

NOTES. 387 

for a more profound reason. The inner life of the debauched 
Antony possessed no great wealth, and in its new infatuation 
offered the poet little that was attractive. But his darling 
dramatic figure, Cleopatra, in the development of which he had 
evinced his consummate, masterly art, was not a character 
adapted to great dramatic emotion and excitement ; the various 
scenes in which she appears full of passionate demeanor with- 
out passion, resemble brilliant variations of the same theme. 
In her relations with Antony she is portrayed just often 
enough and from the most diverse points of view to present a 
rich picture of the vixenish coquette. The return of Antony 
gave the poet no new task with respect to her. On the other 
hand, the exaltation of this character in a desperate situation, 
under the fear of death, was a fascinating subject for him, and 
to a certain extent rightly so ; for herein was an opportunity 
for a most peculiar, gradual intensification. Shakespeare, then, 
sacrificed to these scenes a part of the action. He threw 
together the climax and the return action, indicating them in 
little scenes, and accorded to the catastrophe two acts. For 
the aggregate effect of the play, this is a disadvantage. We are 
indebted to him, however, for the scene of Cleopatra's death 
in the monument, — of all that is extraordinary in Shakespeare, 
perhaps the most astonishing. That the accessory persons, 
Octavianus and his sister, just at the summit of the action, 
were more important to the poet than his chief person, is per- 
haps due to the fact that to the poet in advanced life, any sin- 
gle person with his joy and his sorrow must seem small and 
insignificant, while the poet was contemplating, prophetically 
and reverentially, the historical and established order of things. 

Note 8, page 83. — The scene is, however, by no means to 
be omitted, — as indeed happens. Moreover, an abbreviation 
must make prominent the contrast with the first, the imperial 
hardness of the tyrant, the lurking hostility of the mother, and 
Richard's deception by a woman whom he despises. If our 
stage directors would not endure more, they might tolerate the 
following: Of the lines in the passage beginning. 
Stay, madam, I must speak a word with you, 

and extending to the end of the scene, to Richard's words, 

Bear her my true-love's kiss; and so farewell, 

388 NOTES. 

numbered consecutively from 198 to 436, Globe -Edition, the 
following lines might remain: 198-201 ; 203-206; 251-256; 257; 
293-298; 300; 301; 310, 311; 320-325; 328; 330; 340-357; 407- 
418; 420; 422-424; 433-436. 

Note 9, page loi. — Both of these expressions of the craft 
are still occasionally misunderstood. Peripeteia does not always 
denote the last part of the action from the climax downward, 
which in Aristotle is called Katabasis; but it is only what is 
here called "tragic force," — a single scene-eflfect, sometimes 
only a part of a scene. The chapter on the Anagnorisis, how- 
ever, one of the most instructive in the Poetics, because it 
affords a glimpse into the craftsman's method of poetic work, 
once appeared to the publishers as not authentic. 

Note 10, page 147. — That the choruses did not, as a rule, 
rush in and off again, but claimed a good share of the time, 
may be inferred from the fact that in Sophocles sometimes a 
brief chorus fills up the time which the player needs to go 
behind the scenes to change his costume, or to pass from his 
door to the side-entrance, through which he must enter in a 
new role. Thirteen lines and two strophes of a little chorus 
suffice for the deuteragonist whose exit, as Jocasta, has been 
made through the back-door, to change costume and reappear 
upon the stage as shepherd from the field side. Upon the stage 
of the Acropolis this was no little distance. 

Note ii, page 147. — That a favorite order of presentation 
was from the gloomy, the horrible, to the brighter and more 
cheerful, we may infer from the circumstance that Antigone 
and Electra were first pieces of the day. This is known from 
Antigone not only by the first choral-song, the first beautiful 
^strophe of which is a morning song, but also from the charac- 
ter of the action which gives to the great role of the pathos 
actor only the first half of the piece, and thus lays the center 
of gravity toward the beginning. In the most beautiful poem 
it would not have been advisable to entrust to the so-little- 
esteemed third actor (who, nevertheless, is sometimes shown a 
preference by Sophocles) the closing effects of the last piece, 
so important in securing the decision of the judges. In the 
prologue of Electra, also, the rising sun and the festal Bacchic 

NOTES. 389 

costume are mentioned. The beautiful, broadly elaborated 
situation in the prologue of King CEdipus and the structure 
of Ajax, the center of gravity of which lies in the first half, 
and which distinctly reveals the early morning, seem to point 
to these as first pieces. The Trachinian Women probably 
entered the contest as a middle piece ; CEdipus at Colonos, 
with its magnificent conclusion, and Philoctetes with its splen- 
did pathos role and reconciling conclusion, as closing pieces. 
The conjectures which are based upon the technical character 
of the pieces, have at least more probability than conjectures 
which are drawn from a comparison or collation of dramas 
which have been preserved, with such as have not been. 

Note 12, page 148. — Six pieces of Sophocles contain an 
average of about 1,118 verses, exclusive of the speeches and 
songs of the chorus. Only CEdipus at Colonos is longer. If, 
again, the number of verses of each of the three players is on 
the average about equal, the tragedies of a day, together with 
a burlesque of the length of The Cyclops (about 500 verses for 
three players) would give to each player a total of about 1,300 
verses. But the task of the first player was already, on account 
of the affecting pathos scenes and on account of the songs, dis- 
proportionately greater. Besides, much more must be expected 
from him. If in the three pieces of Sophocles in which the 
hero suffers from a disease inflicted by the gods (Ajax, The 
Trachinian Women, Philoctetes) the parts of the first player 
are summed up, (Ajax, Teucros, Heracles, Lichas, Philoc- 
tetes) there will be about 1,440 verses ; and with the burlesque, 
there will be about 1,600 verses : and there is the effort 
required to carry through six roles and sing about six songs. 
There is no doubt that, in the composition of his tetralogies, 
Sophocles gave attention to the pauses for rest for his three 
players. Each last tragedy demanded the most powerful 
effort; and it must also, as a rule, have demanded most from 
the first actor. That The Trachinian Women was not a third 
piece may be inferred from the fact that in it the second actor 
had the chief role. 

Note 13, page 153. — In the extant plays of Sophocles, the 
assignment of roles among the three actors is as follows, Pro- 

390 NOTES. 

tagonist, Deuteragonist, Tritagonist, being indicated by the 
numbers i, 2, 3, respectively: — 

King CEdipus: i, (Edipus. 2, Priest, Jocasta, Shepherd, 
Messenger of the catastrophe. 3, Creon, Tiresias, Messenger. 

CEdipus at Colonos: i, QEdipiis, Messenger of the catas- 
trophe. 2, Antigone, ^Theseus (in the climax scene). 3, 
Colonians, Ismene, Theseus (in the other scenes), Creon, 

Antigone: i, Antigone, Tiresias, Messenger of the catas- 
trophe. 2, Ismene, Watchman, Hsemon, *Eurydice, Servant. 
3, Creon. 

The Trachinian Women: i, *Maid-servant, Lichas, Hera- 
cles. 2, Deianeira, Nurse (as messenger of the catastrophe), 
Old man. 3, Hyllos, Messenger. 

Ajax: I, Ajax, Teucros. 2, Odysseus, Tecmessa. 3, 
Athene, Messenger, Menelaus, Agamemnon. 

Philoctetes: i, Philoctetes, 2, Neoptolemos. 3, Odysseus, 
Merchant, Heracles. 

Electra: i, Electra. 2, Warden, Chrysothemis, iEgisthos. 
3, Orestes, Clytemnestra. 

The roles marked * are uncertain. Besides the three act- 
ors, the Attic stage always had several accessory players for 
dumb-show roles : thus in Electra, Pylades ; in The Trachin- 
ian Women, the especially distinguished role of lole in which 
perhaps Sophocles would present to the public a young actor 
whom he esteemed. It is probable that these accessory players 
sometimes relieved the actors of less important subordinate 
roles, — for example, in Antigone, Eurydice, which is treated 
very briefly ; and in The Trachinian Women, the maid-servant 
of the prologue. How else could they test their voices and 
their powers? Such aid as was rendered by characters dis- 
guised from the audience by masks, was not reckoned playing. 
The accessory actors were also needed ;is representatives of the 
three players upon the stage, if the presence of a mask was 
desirable in a scene, and the player of this scene must at the 
same time assume another role ; then the accessory player fig- 
ured in like costume and the required mask, as a rule without 
saying any lines ; but sometimes single lines must be given 
him. Thus Ismene, in the second half of CEdipus at Colonos, 
is represented by an accessory player, while the player himself 

NOTES. 391 

represents Theseus and Polynices. This piece has the peculiar- 
ity that at least at the climax, one scene of Theseus is pre- 
sented by the second actor, the player of Antigone, while the 
remaining scenes of this role are presented by the third actor. 
If the player had practiced the voice, and so forth, this substi- 
tution for a single scene did not offer special difficulty. It is 
possible, however, that the player of the role of Antigone, also 
gave the first Theseus scene. Antigone has gone into the grove 
in the background, in order to watch her father ; she may very 
conveniently appear again as Theseus, while a stage-walker 
goes up and down in her mask. If even in this play, a fourth 
actor had taken part, in any role of importance, some account 
would have come to us of what even at that time would have 
been a striking innovation. 

Note 14, page 155. — Upon our stage every play has one 
first hero, but more chief roles ; not frequently is one of these 
more ample and of deeper interest than that of the first hero, 
as, for example, the role of Falstaff in Henry IV. 

Note 15, page 156. — The presuppositions of The Trachin- 
ian Women are, so far as Deianeira is concerned, very simple ; 
but Heracles is the first hero, and his preparation for being 
received among the gods was the master-stroke of the play. 
Note 16, page 156. — It is impossible just in Sophocles, 
from the extant names of lost plays and from scattered verses, 
to come to any conclusion as to the contents of the plays. 
What one might think from the tradition to be the contents of 
the play, could often prove to be only the contents of the pro- 

Note 17, page 178. — Prologue: Neoptolemos, Odysseus. 
Chorus and Neoptolemos in Antiphone — 

'' I. Messenger scene with recognition, 
Ascent Philoctetes, Neoptolemos. 

of ^ 2. Messenger scene, The same, and Merchant. 

Action, I 3. Recognition scene (of the bow), 

1^ Philoctetes, Neoptolemos. 

Choral song — 
Climax, i. Double pathos scene, 

Philoctetes, Neoptolemos. 
Tragic Force, 2. Dialogue scene, The same, Odysseus. 

392 NOTES. 

Chorus and Philoctetes in Antiphone — 

1. Dialogue scene, Neoptolemos, Odysseus. 

2. Dialogue scene, Philoctetes, Neoptolemos; 
afterward Odysseus. 

3. Announcement and conclusion, 
Philoctetes, Neoptolemos, 


Falling Action 


Note 18, page 183. — The " balcony scene" belongs, on our 
stage, at the end of the first act, not in the second ; but this 
makes the first act disproportionately long. It is a disadvan- 
tage that our (German) division of plays often makes a break 
in the action where a rapid movement is demanded, or only a 
very short interruption is allowed. 

Note 19, page 208. — Let this structure be represented by 
means of lines. (See page 115.) 

1. A DRAMA, such as did not lie in Schiller's plan. Idea: A 
perfidious general endeavors to make the army desert its 
commander, but is deserted by his soldiers and put to death. 

a. Exciting force : inciting to treason. 

b. Rising action : certain stipulations with the enemy. 

c. Climax : apparent success ; the subtly sought signature 

of the generals. 

d. Return action : the conscience of the army is awakened. 

e. Catastrophe : death of the general. 

2. ScHiLLER^s Wallenstein without The Piccolomini. Idea : 
Through excessive power, intrigues of opponents, and his 
own proud heart, a general is betrayed into treason ; he 
seeks to make the army desert its commander, etc. 

In this a, b, c, rising action to climax ; 
inner struggles and temptations. 

a. Questenberg in camp, and separation 

from emperor. "h 

b. Testing the generals; banquet scene. 

c. Climax : the first act of treason ; for 

example, the treating with Wrangel. 
cd. Attempts to mislead the army. 

d. Return action : the conscience of the soldiers is awak- 


e. Catastrophe: death of Wallenstein. 

NOTES. 393 

3. The Double Dramas. 

A. The Piccolomini, indicated by the dotted lines. 

B. Wallenstein's Death, indicated by plain lines, 
aa. The two exciting 

forces, a', the gen- 
erals and Questen- 
berg, for the com- 
bined action ; a-, 
Max's and Thekla's 
arrival for The Pic- 

cc. The two climaxes, 
c, release of Max 
from Octavio, at (Z 
the same time, ca- 
tastrophe of The 

Piccolomini; c^, Wallenstein and Wrangel, at the same 
time the exciting force of Wallenstein's Death. 

ee. The two concluding catastrophes, e', of the lovers, and 
e^, of Wallenstein. Further, b, the love scene between 
Max and Thekla is the climax of The Piccolomini; 
f and g are the scenes interwoven from Wallenstein's 
Death: audience of Questenberg, and banquet, the 
second and fourth acts of The Piccolomini; h, d, and 
e' are scenes interwoven from The Piccolomini and 
Wallenstein's Death: Octavio's intrigue, the departure 
of Max, the announcement of his death, together with 
Thekla's flight, — the second, third, and fourth acts, d, 
is the scene of the cuirassiers, at the same time the 
climax of the second drama. 

Note 20, page 212. — In printing our plays, it frequently 
happens that within acts, only those scenes are set off and num- 
bered which demand a shifting of scenery. The correct 
method, however, would be to count and number the scenes 
within an act according to their order of succession ; and 
where a change of scenery is necessary, and must be indicated, 
add to the current scene number the word "change," and indi- 
cate the character of the new stage setting. 



Note 21, page 237. — The act is in two parts. The first 
preparatory part contains three short dramatic . components : 
the entrance of Max, the submitting of the forged documents 
by the intriguers, Buttler's connection with them. At this 
point the great conclusion begins, introduced by the conversa- 
tion of the servants. The carousing generals must not be seen 
during the entire act in the middle and back ground : the stage 
presents to better advantage an ante-room of the banquet hall, 
separated from this by pillars and a rear wall, so that the com- 
pany, previous to its entrance at the close, is seen only indis- 
tinctly and only an occasional convenient call and movement of 
groups are noticed. In Wallenstein, Schiller was still a care- 
less stage director; but from the date of that play he became 
more careful in stage arrangement. Among the peculiarities of 
clear portrayal in this scene, belongs the unfeeling degradation 
of Max. It is wonderfully repeated by Kleist in The Prince of 
Hamburg. Shakespeare does not characterize dreamers by 
their silence, but by their distracted and yet profound speeches. 

Note 22, page 308. — Of course Emilia Galotti must be rep- 
resented in the costume of the time, 1772. The piece demands 
another consideration in acting. From the third act, the cur- 
tain must not be dropped for pauses between acts; and these 
should be very short. 

Note 23, page 361. — Twenty of our great dramas have the 
following lengths in verses : 

Don Carlos 


Othello - 


Maria Stuart 


Coriolanus - 


Wallenstein's Death - 


Romeo and Juliet - 


Nathan the Wise - 


Bride of Messina - 


Hamlet - 


The Piccolomini 


Richard HI - 


Merchant of Venice 


Torquato Tasso 


Julius C^sar - 


Maid of Orleans - 




William Tell - 


Macbeth - 


King Lear - 


Prince of Homburg 


These figures do not pretend to absolute correctness, since 
the incomplete verses are to be deducted; and the prose pas- 
sages, in which Shakespeare is especially rich, admit of only a 

NOTES. 395 

rough estimate. The prose plays, Emilia Galotti, Clavigo, 
Egmont, Love and Intrigue, correspond more nearly to the 
length of the plays of our own time. Of the dramas in verse, 
enumerated above, only the last three can be presented entire, 
without that abbreviation which is necessary on other grounds. 
It would require six hours to play all of Don Carlos, which in 
length exceeds all bounds. 

Since Wallenstein's Camp — together with the lyric lines — 
has 1,105 rapid verses, the three parts of the dramatic poem, 
Wallenstein, contain 7,639 verses ; and their representation on 
the stage, the same day, would require r,bout the same time as 
the Oberammergau Passion Play. No single chief role is so 
comprehensive that it would place an excessive burden upon an 
actor to carry it through in a single day. 

« ri f 1 1% O O 



*PB ?8 19901